Saturday, March 21, 2009

Subways, Why They Suck


I ride the subways. A lot. They're crowded, they're dirty. Not my favorite mode of transportation. I wear my headphones whenever I'm on the subway and, if it is still sunny out, I don't take my sunglasses off when I'm underground.

Not because I'm cool. Far from it. I am doing everything in my power to tune out my surroundings. It's why I bought noise cancelling headphones in the first place.

So, yesterday, my daughter calls me up and asks if I can come get her. She's with my wife but she doesn't want to wait and it's Friday so I figure, yeah, I'll leave now, hop on the subway and head up to get her.

During rush hour.

Fucking mistake.

So I pack up my shit and head down to the subway. Sunglasses on, buds firmly tucked into my ears. I head down to my platform and hop on the subway. I'm standing by the door, like I always do, and I see everyone looking towards the back end of the car. I shift my gaze in the same direction and see a black guy waving sitting down, waving his arms like a lunatic and, apparently, he's yelling. I shrug my shoulders and get back to my tuning out.

There's a young woman standing next to me and she looks angry. Pissed off at whatever is happening in the back of the car. She moves towards that area, stopping by a pole. She's holding on to the pole as we move away from the station. The angry guy is ranting about something, I can't hear shit, but he keeps looking over at the woman who nods her approval.

What the fuck is going on? It almost seems coordinated. Suddenly, some guy stands up and walks over to the angry dude. He leans down and starts talking, or yelling, and the angry dude is yelling back, fingers pointing, folks around them are starting to appear a bit frightened but there's a bit of anger and annoyance mixed across their faces as well.

The train stops. The doors open. Standing guy says something and gets off the train.

A woman sitting across the car from the angry guy says something, I don't know what, and the angry guy goes nuts. He's up, out of his seat, he's yelling at her, in her face. She's just sitting there, staring at him like he's lost his fucking mind.

At this point, I figure, might want to hear what's happening as I might wind up being questioned by the cops.

I click on the microphone. I mentioned this I think. The headset has a mic so you don't need to pull the buds out of your ears to hear. I flip the switch. To anyone watching me, I look like a guy listening to music but I am picking up everything. I hear this guy yelling about minding your own business, this isn't about you, stupid white bitch shut up.

Oh, I get it, crazy man, act crazy, scare people. For fun.

Headset back on.

Angry dude sits back down. Everything seems calm for a minute, then his hands go up and a ranting and a raving he goes again.

All the while, the woman who was nodding her approval is staring at him. Angry look on her face. He keeps looking back at her. It's odd. Really fucking odd.

So, he's yelling and screaming and suddenly this white guy with glasses leans forward out of his seat and looks towards the angry guy. I flip the mic back on so I can hear and the white guy says "man, can't we all go home in peace and quiet, can you please let it go?"

Black guy stands. Tears the reggae hat off his head. Says "we can go out there and I can slap your white ass up and down the platform. I will not let it go." Fuck this fuck that blah blah I'm nobody's fucking white people...."

And then someone from the MTA (Metro Transit Authority), a conductor I guess, come into the car and says "sir, can I talk to you please?" to the angry black guy. He says no, he's riding the car, fuck this. The MTA guy says "I'm asking you to come here."

Angry guy, seeing that this was the MTA guy saying, come here or get arrested, looks over towards the MTA guy and says "for a brother, and only for a brother."

MTA guy says "what's the problem" nice and quiet. Angry dude is now standing next to me. As he turns towards the crowd, to shout the injustice that has created this nightmare, he bumps me. With his back pack. Not hard but he bumps me. I move a little to the left.

Here's the basics of what went down. He shouts, he points, he yells at everyone, he screams, he bumps me, he steps on my foot, he bumps me again, as he swings his arm he actually almost hits me in the head.

I'm ducking and bobbing and weaving like a fucking prizefighter.

There's a little older, black woman standing next to me, and she moves over a bit, to either make more room for me or to hide behind me, lest she take a shot in the melon.

And all the while, angry woman is saying "that's right, he's nobody's nigger."

And why is he nobody's nigger?

So he says, this man sat down on the subway, next to a white woman who, during the ride, crossed her legs and opened her newspaper and her foot hit him and then, when she put her foot down she rested her newspaper on her leg AND his!!! and here is where he went nuts.

Fucking white woman puts her foot on me and no motherfucking apology? Because I'm black!! Because I'm a nigger uncle tom and she don't need to apologize and I'm better than him, he's probably homeless and he wants to rob me.

Say what?

Yup, but it gets even better.
I'm stunned. This dude gets on a subway, during rush hour, someone accidentally touches him and we've got the equivalent of a race riot on our hands.

As he's telling this last part, about not being her nigger or whatever the fuck he's railing on and on about, he bumps me again.

And I start laughing. And angry guy looks at me and says "something funny?"

I say "seriously, you're pissed off because a woman, sitting next to you bumped you? That's what this is all about? a foot bump?"

"mind your business white man"
so I said
"I'm sorry, no, I minded it when you went berserk...over there...but now, you're here, bumping me, stepping on my feet, in my space and I'm simply saying relax. You're all pumped up over a woman touching you. Am I going all calling for justice over the bumps? stepping on my foot? the body slam? It's Friday Afternoon, people want to go home, be with their families, they don't want to listen to you scream for the sake of screaming."

The MTA guy says "she's sorry for bumping you" and the angry guy is yelling about god knows what and everyone on the subway is yelling "get him off the train"

I'm standing there, shaking with fear and anger. I've been taught, from day one, never get involved in these kinds of situations. You never know who's carrying a gun or a knife.

All I wanted was to leave work at a normal time and see my daughter. Now I'm late and I'm, apparently, about to get into a fight.

The angry guy starts talking to the woman "you see, fucking white mother fuckers want me to sit here, quietly, and accept my lynching."

Suddenly, the little woman behind me leans over and says "son, we will never be treated as equals if kids like you keep acting like assholes. sit down and shut up and let us all go home"

The whole fucking car erupts in applause.

The angry guy is seething. The angry woman is seething. The whole fucking car is vibrating with anxiety and anger.

MTA guy says "cops will be at the next stop (mine, thank fucking god) so best keep your thoughts inside"

The doors close, the train moves, the angry guy turns to me and says "hey, sorry man, didn't mean to bump you"

I said "it's cool, I'm just trying to see my daughter for the first time in a week, I just want to go home"

The white guy with the glasses gets up, presumably to get off at the next stop. He walks over towards us, big fucking guy, much bigger than he seemed. He says to the angry guy, "I'm not afraid of you, nobody is, you need to relax"

I turn to the white guy and say "don't get him started, it's over, sit down"

Angry black woman turns to angry black man and says "look at this, he wants to take you on"

Black guy turns his back on the white guy and says "I'm going home, it's miller time."

Ignoring the white guy.

The old lady and I got off at the same stop. she said she can't stand seeing kids behave like that (this guy was my age, maybe a bit younger, not a kid). Black or white, it's a disgrace she says.

I agree, tell her that I prefer walking to avoid this stuff.
She says "you should probably put your headphones on and tune everyone out.

Smart woman.


Laura said...

Too bad this shit happens everywhere.. but I still think I'll stay in the burbs.

Do you take the kids on the subways?

Floogin McNoogin said...

I take the kids on the subway. My son loves it. My daughter, not as much. Sometimes it is easier.

Anonymous said...

I'll take the bus driver giving me his meaning of life in relation to the universe over that.
Glad you got out of that ok.

Trenton said...

Dude, I wouldn't take anyone on the subway, let alone ride one myself. I'm just glad that no one got hurt.

Trent :-)

Floogin McNoogin said...

the subways aren't like you see in the movies. for the most part, they're just crowded with miserable people moving from one miserable place to another

Someone You Don't Know said...

I started following your blog again.
I was checking it every day i figured...what the hell.

As to your post.....that's quite scary. The London Underground is also scary. But in a more polite "we're British" scary way.

We don't have crazy people ranting about race. We just have people looking up from their broadsheets and staring at you in a way designed to make your legs turn to jelly.

It's very effective. In a really subtle way.

I like your blog. I promise not to delete my follower status again. And i also promise to click like a maniac on the google ads.

Floogin McNoogin said...

and I promise to try my very best to put things up that will entertain, make you laugh and make you think.

Anonymous said...

I was sitting here thinking how lucky Iam to live in a small but relatively safe city, and my daughter comes home and tells me the worst news.
Her friend and co-worker, had a couple of guys break into the apartment she shares with her boyfriend, (attempted robbery),and the girl's boyfriend is in the hospital after being stabbed in the chest by one of the robbers.
He'll be ok..collapsed lung.
Scary as hell to me.
This city is being taken over by crackheads, and the wanderers from the mental health center.
Time to get outta Dodge.