Each month on Instagram, we team up with KPCC and suggest a photo assignment for our project called Public Square. In October we wanted to see your commute — that perfectly average and ordinary part of the day that many of us share. Lots of you participated. And one photo in particular had a special story.
Amateur photographer Jabali Sawicki commutes by subway from Brooklyn into New York’s Penn Station every morning. But on a recent return trip home he noticed something different with the assignment in mind:
“It was as if all of New York City had vanished into the background,” he says. “All the noise and chaos of the subway and commute had died down. And all that was left was a mother and her son reading.”
Sawicki captured the moment, shared it, and then likely forgot about it.
The mother, it turns out, was Megan Freund, who commutes every day with her young son, Eli. Eli goes to day care near where his mother works as a teacher.
Shortly thereafter, Freund was scrolling through some of the Instagram commute photos we posted here — when she saw the picture Sawicki had taken of her and her son on the train:
“I started crying because I was so overwhelmed,” she says. “He’s sort of curled up next to me and I’m reading him a book about dinosaurs, actually, my father had given to me when I was 8 years old for Christmas. It was pretty incredible that somebody had noticed that moment.”
“I probably read it four times before I realized what was happening,” he says. “The fact that somehow miraculously she had found this picture and that it meant so much to her.”
He mailed a print of the photo to Freund.
“It’s a really nice reminder,” Freund says, “especially when the days are long, the commutes are long … we’re so fortunate to have this time together.”
Keep an eye out for the next Public Square assignment on Instagram!