By Phyllis J. Lubin

I now am a card-carrying Long Island Rail Road off-peak Ten-Trip ticket holder. Did you know that there is a discount for the off-peak Ten-Trip ticket, but no discount for the peak Ten-Trip? In addition, no train person will clue you in that you are using a peak ticket when you are on an off-peak train, but they will surely point out when you try to use an off-peak ticket during peak hours.

A few weeks ago my husband and I had to take a trip into the city during “off-peak” hours. My eldest daughter wasn’t going into the city that day (a Sunday), so I thought it would make sense to “borrow” the remaining trips on her ten trip off-peak card (that we had purchased), while purchasing a new off-peak Ten-Trip for the return trip. It made sense, since these tickets expire, and why not use the older ticket first?

The following evening I received a frantic call from that same daughter asking if I had her peak Ten-Trip card. Why would I have that card? I had given her the remainder of the new off-peak card that I had purchased. She had her own peak card–or did she? Evidently she had unwittingly given us the remainder of her peak tickets, while retaining her off-peak tickets instead. And now that I had given her the remainder of the new off-peak ticket that I had purchased, she had two partially used sets of off-peak tickets!

I told my daughter to just explain to the conductor that we had actually used two peak tickets during the off-peak hours without realizing it, hence he shouldn’t penalize her for using the off-peak ticket now during peak hours. Suffice it to say that the excuse did not fly with him, and she was forced to pay the difference of $5 to bump up her ticket. Sadly, any “discount” that we had earned by purchasing the Ten-Trip off-peak ticket was surely lost.

And so I made a decision: I purchased my own off-peak Ten-Trip ticket card. Now I can take a trip into the city on a moment’s notice (during off-peak times, that is). And so when I went into the city this past Wednesday to meet up with my husband to see a show, I was ready!

A few weeks ago, my husband had treated me to tickets to the show Jersey Boys in honor of my birthday. The weather was beautiful, and the show was amazing. Of course we didn’t want to be late, so although we walked to the theater after lunch with Rivka (she partook from the Ten-Trip tickets as well) on her way back to Stern, we arrived at our destination way too early. I noticed that we were right around the corner from the theater where The David Letterman Show is taped, directly across the street from my husband’s Manhattan office. “What ever happened to the idea of going to a David Letterman Show taping?”

When my husband first began working at the Manhattan office about six and a half years ago, he mentioned that David Letterman taped across the street, and I suggested getting tickets, but somehow that never happened. Now, my husband’s base of operation is in Uniondale.

“Oh, it’s very difficult to get tickets.”

“I’d love to just see the theater up close. We have time yet before they will let us in, so let’s just take a quick walk around the block.”

As we approached the theater, lo and behold we noticed that the door was open, and we wandered inside. There were Letterman crewmembers taking down people’s names for possible future tickets.

“We will take your information, and a raffle will be drawn from the names we collect, and if you are the winner of the raffle we will give you a call.” We had nothing to lose, and a possibility of another trip into the city!

After the doors to the Jersey Boys theater opened, and we were ensconced in our seats, my phone rang from a 212 area code. Not wanting to disturb theatergoers, I quickly turned my phone off without answering the call.

Jersey Boys was fantastic. The characters came alive with the music, and I am now officially a Frankie Valli fan. During the intermission, I quickly checked my messages. A number of texts from home (fortunately no emergencies there), and a voice-mail message from that 212 number that I didn’t answer earlier: “Congratulations. You have won the raffle for tickets to The David Letterman Show. Please call before 5:00 to claim your tickets.”

We won! I almost never win anything. The most memorable thing I have ever won was a television set in the third grade. We used to sell kosher-for-Passover Barton’s candy every year, and that particular year, for every $12 in chocolate sold, we earned a raffle ticket. I had friends who somehow had orders in the hundreds, while I had collected from family and neighbors a total of exactly $12 in sales–earning one raffle ticket.

I remember sitting in an assembly when the winner was announced: “Phyllis Davidson, class 3G, is the winner of the grand prize for a color television set!” Of course I am dating myself now–no one today would give it another thought that the TV was color, and in the end it wasn’t. But color or black-and-white, I won it. My one ticket was the winner then, and on November 3 I had my next win!

And so after thoroughly enjoying my birthday show, we were already planning our next trip into the city. After the show, we topped off the evening with dinner at Abigael’s on Broadway, an exquisite way to complete my birthday outing. The food was great, and not only am I a card-carrying LIRR Off-Peak Ten-Trip ticket holder, I am also an Abigael’s rewards member. This card entitles me to special perks after accumulating a certain number of points. And now that I am a regular citygoer, I will be able to make this rewards card earn me some more discounts. And I also filled out birthday coupon forms for me and my husband, which will earn us a special birthday coupon when our special days come around.

With our David Letterman raffle win, we were able to actually choose the date to “cash in” for our free tickets. On Wednesday, November 13, we attended the taping. My husband worked out of the Manhattan office that day, so I was set to meet him at the theater across the street at about 2:45 (the time we had to pick up our free tickets).

My Ten-Trip was safely in my bag, so I chose to hop on an 11:44 train and walked in the brisk November air over to meet up with my eldest son, Naftali, at his office on 56th and Madison. He recommended that I take a subway over, but I am not a subway fan (nor am I a holder of a MetroCard), so I assured him that my feet would get me there. After taking a quick trip up to his office to see where he spends his days, we went to the Sony atrium and shared a delectable pizza at Solo. After bidding him adieu, I walked over the few blocks to meet up with Leib outside the Letterman theater.

Of course you know what they say–you get what you pay for. Being that the tickets were free I have nothing to really complain about, but . . . we were seated in the balcony with a very obstructed view of the action on stage. After waiting literally hours to finally enter the theater and to be seated, this was a letdown. We definitely had a good time seeing how the show is taped, but if I were to ever to consider coming again, I would need assurance from David himself that we would get to see him a little more closely than on the television monitors that we viewed from our seats.

As we returned to the LIRR for our trip home, alas we couldn’t use my Ten-Trip, but fortunately Leib was ready with his own Ten-Trip (peak) to bring us home. But I still have eight trips left on my Ten-Trip, so don’t be surprised if you see me on the LIRR one day taking a trip to the city just because I can! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children–Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea–and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at


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