New York is one of the most and diverse cities in the world. On a perfect day in spring, one might say it’s even beautiful. Being surrounded by the wafting smells of different international dishes and watching the new sun of the season melt away what’s been abandoned by the cold weather.
Unfortunately, while the world begins to blossom and change above ground there is a whole other realm underground that most aren’t aware of. It’s not very difficult to find. All it takes is $2.50 and a sense for adventure. The MTA will take care of the rest. They are always available to fulfill any daredevils’ craving for the bizarre.
My journey all started on my train ride from Queens to Brooklyn. It was an early Saturday morning and I was getting ready to enter the E train. The train slowly pulled up into the station and to my luck the door is right in front of me. I quickly enter and I notice there are four seats available. I swiftly walked towards a corner seat and BEGAN to sit down. My derriere was no more than a few inches away from the seat. Suddenly, a random woman shoves me out of the way. Practically stumbling to the ground, I yelled out “Jesus Christ” and she says (in the deepest, masculine, smoker voice) “my crew needs to sit, yo.”
After the exchange of dirty looks and the obvious mumble of colorful words under my breath, I walked to the other side of the train. A seat immediately became available. I sat down and managed to close my eyes and doze off. It wasn’t long until I heard the most ear-splitting Indian party music. Let’s make one thing clear, I am all for the occasional international party. At 8 o’clock in the morning is an entirely different story.
I woke up abruptly. With blood shot eyes I attempted to distract myself and began to read. Shortly after I’m able to drown the heinous music out of my head, a family entered the train. Two children between the ages of 8-11 prepare to play on the train. The little girl, with a rolled up magazine in hand started to sing out of tune. Like an Asian Hannah Montana, she gazed out to her fellow straphangers as if they were audience, smiling and waving. Her little brother began to “dance.” He energetically jumped and collided with the people closest to him. He purposely knocked down bags and water bottles people carried. People just stared at the mother of the children. Embarrassed and confused she stared at the floor and ignored the evil looks around her. She was tiny and frail and looked absolutely defeated. It was obvious that her children’s antics took whatever energy she possessed.
The train came to dashing halt. We were informed by the conductor that there were signal problems and we will be stuck in the tunnel for at least 5 minutes. The children finally ran out of steam and calmed down. There was finally a sense of ease that blanketed the train. Everyone was in a silent almost meditative trance.
The only noise that could be heard came from the little bully dancer. He sneezed for about ten seconds straight. His mother just looked away. Without covering his mouth he coughed. There right before my eyes I witnessed a slimy, green boogey flying in the air. It landed on the bag of the woman that stood next to him. It was by far one of the nastiest things I have ever seen happen in public. I felt for the broken mother of two very boisterous children. I still shot her a look of utter disgust. She just rejected me and made her exit at the next stop.
Finally off the E train I made my way to the N train. The difference between the E and N train were as night and day. I entered this pleasant train and sat down right away. Being above ground everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the morning sun as it filled the train with its light ultimately making the experience happy one.
I noticed a disheveled old woman sitting by herself in a corner seat. She looked a bit unkempt but harmless nonetheless. She had a tattered old coat and sneakers with no socks on. Her swollen ankles were exposed. It was very unusual to be that underdressed in the heart of winter.
The old woman sat singing quietly to herself. It was just then that I noticed she wasn’t alone. She was singing to the baby wrapped in her scarf. She hardly looked like she could take care of herself. The woman next to me told me that the old woman had mental issues and it wasn’t a baby. It was a DOLL!
Was this the result of unresolved issues from her losing a child in the far past? Where was her family? Concerned neighbor? I was absolutely appalled that someone in need of care was wandering around the city. Why was she riding the train without supervision?
I was automatically thrown into deep thought. I felt as if I caught a glimpse of an unknown alternate universe. Why was it so accepted for children to be disrespectful? When did the elderly or mentally disabled go unnoticed?
I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders for the remainder of my train ride. I asked myself questions and wondered how to save the world. Being underground and racing in the darkness from stop to stop put me in a state of frenzy. I was frantic and anxiety washed over me. There is no time. No time to rebuild or start over. No time to do things right. I looked around at the folks surrounding me. I thought about my earlier encounters on the E train. This world was so ugly. I was blind living in the corner house with a huge back yard of green grass, flowers and a vegetable garden. The only time I was surrounded by others different from myself was when I was on the train. Public transportation was one place I could see people from different paths of life.
I snapped out of it long enough to get off at my stop. I ran for the nearest exit and flew up the stairs. Crouched over with my hands on my knees I took deep breathes. I finally stood up and let the cool air bring me back to life. I slowly walked to my destination. The sun melted my anxiety.
I realized I cannot save the world and everything happens for a reason. I realized I was blessed for living where I did. I realized I was going to raise my children with respect as I was raised. Most importantly I realized after I completed my errands, I was going to take a cab home.
Contributed By: Andromeda Beharry