New York, New York - It's Sunday night in Manhattan. I'm in town for business and need to get a bite to eat. Right next to my hotel on 46th Street is O'Brien's Times Square. The Irish pub has great burgers and a large assortment of beer. Sunday night football is on the big screen. Perfect. On this night, like every night in Manhattan, there's an eclectic crowd. Men and woman of all color, faith and backgrounds walk together on the sidewalk, or in this case, grab a stool on the long bar.
In the corner of the pub, there's a banjo and guitar duo playing old Irish folk songs. I am half Irish by my mom's side, her father a Forestal, her mom an O'Sullivan. Russian on my dad's and Kraniak is my last name. The music is familiar, there's no singing at the moment and I think to myself this could be folk music from anywhere. Greece. Italy. Romania. Pakistan, Spain. Israel. It just has that familiar rhythm and timeless sound. The acoustic beat makes me want to dance, but I am too shy and too sober to try. Then I look up and great minds think alike.
A man with olive skin, who is wearing a Pagdi, a type of turban, is dancing near his bar table. His dance is expressive, his hands in front, snapping his fingers and occasionally he raises one hand in the air and spins. I drink my beer and soak in the energy of the moment. It dawns on me. This is America: A man wearing a Pagdi dancing to Irish folk music.
I get up and have to tell him he made my night. His name is Jimmy and he is from India. He owns a 7-11 on East 23rd. We start talking. His friend, Sunny, works for the NFL. A small group from England, who came to town to see Conor McGregor win his fight at Madison Square Garden, join the conversation. A black man named James, who is trying to make it as a gospel rapper, tells us stories over his PBR.
We buy each other rounds. We share stories. Jimmy in particular holding court talking about how he almost died once and as a result, all he has for all of us in this world is love. James shared the time he got run over by a bus while riding his bike as a kid. His is struggling to make ends meet, but he had no shortage of hugs to give. The trio from England, two women and a man, all in their 20's, express concern about the election of Donald Trump. They liken it to the Brexit vote and have a wait and see approach. The big concern is racism.
We discuss the issue. And all of us realize the same thing: On this night, in this pub, we all got along. And on this night, in this pub we make a vow. To treat others as we want to be treated, no matter what the color of their skin, religious belief, economic status or national heritage. It matters not. To my fellow Americans, whatever candidate you supported, this is what winning looks like. The great melting pot. This is what makes America great. Let's keep it that way.