Mind the Gap

 

Many of us learn of people and their contributions only when it’s too late to show our appreciation. It is thanks to obituaries in small town newspapers where we stop over for a quick meal or a weekend that we may learn of local celebrities. But what about persons who remain anonymous notwithstanding their service to thousands of people every day and millions per year? We are talking mostly about workers in transportation in big cities. One such person was Phil Sayer, who passed away at 62. He was the public announcements voice for the London Underground as well as the three railway networks in Britain. Even though he loved his job, he was disappointed one day when he parroted his own announcements on a Tube car and none of the passengers recognized him. This writer has had for a colleague Sayer’s counterpart at a media company in New York, Charlie Pellett, who was also raised in London (there surely must be something in the water in England to explain this particular obsession with trains for anyone coming from the isle). Pellett does voice-overs for the MTA. “Stand clear of the closing doors please,” a colleague teased Pellett—mimicking the voice any commuter hears dozens of times every day in New York—one day when he barely made it to the elevator as it was about to part. Sayer may have heard a similar warning from a higher voice when he left for his new destination.

 

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