Saturday, December 03, 2005

Subway Conversation


Back in Chicago, I was to meet my cousin at the subway stop but was a half-hour early. Since it was snowing, I decided to get off a couple stops early and stay underground and spare my still-Houston-attuned body unnecessary temperature shocks.

Soon enough, a black guy sidled up to me and asked me if I had a dollar. In the hardened way that comes naturally to one who grew up with Indian poverty all round, I turned up the volume on my iPod and resolutely refused.

"I really need a dollar for a transfer."

"I'm a student, travelling, and I need all the money I have."

With extravagantly polite gestures, "I really don't want to cause no trouble..."

... and now I was wary. There were other people on the platform, but far away and all studiously avoiding the situation. I turned off my iPod and, as discreetly as possible for what is essentially a flash-me object, tucked it away.

"... See, I need to get to County to meet my probation officer by five. I really need to, otherwise I'll be in deep shit." Hands still clearly visible in a peaceful gesture.

Mentally cursing myself for just having withdrawn hundred dollars from the ATM, I drew out my wallet, and, with deliberately slow motions, gave him a dollar bill.

"Hey thanks! Season's greetings. You a real good Christian... You Christian? Or, how do you say, Hindi?"

Wondering if this would be a problem, "Umm, nope. I'm an atheist."

This tickled him pink. "Whoa! A good samaritan who's an atheist. I mean, that's good. I respect that. You know, you really helped me out here. I need to take the train to the last stop, and then change to the bus to the County. And I didn't have no money on the train, and I was like, Oh man! So I thought I'd get out and ask."


"Yeah, County!"

Blank look.

"County jail, man. You know, where they lock you up?"

I mumbled something noncommital like, "Oh, I see."

"Yeah, I've been in and out of jails since I was eighteen. Never violent stuff, though. Always, like, y'know, stealing cars, drugs, stuff like that. But if they catch me now, I'm on probation, man, it'll be baaad."

Moving his hand toward his jacket, "I have some squares on me right now. You probably wouldn't want some, would you? A fine man like you probably don't smoke... naw? Okay, fine, fine."

"Yeah, like I said, never for violence. Well, except this last time. I got into a fight... Aw man! You won't be-LIEVE this shit. I was living with this broad, really sweet broad. Ummmmmm." Rocks his hips gently but suggestively. "You know, a real fine pussy. You know what I mean? Pussy. I had this regular job, and stuck with her. You know, trying to do the right thing. And then I got into this fight. MAN! So fucked-up! It wasn't even about *MY* girl. I got into a fight about this OTHER girl. She wanted to, YOU know!" winks at me. "But, I was like, No. I mean, just trying to do the right thing. One pussy is sweet, two is sweeter, but man, just trying to do the right thing."

"And then the bitch went and cried to her man. Said some lies, and HE came after ME. So I had to hit him. Then he went crying to the cops, and he was like "Officer, this man assaulted me!" Man, that wasted two WEEKS of my life. Luckily, the cops, they were good. They told the judge that the other guy was a trouble-maker. They'd told me they would, and they did."

"Oh, here's the train. You getting on? No? Waiting for the other train? How's my hair? Good? Good. Thanks for the dollar, man.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh - the pepper spray suggestion was for this entry- in my nervousness I wrote in the wrong coloumn :)

11:28 AM  

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