Sit Down

In Other News, Sit Down Already!

Jose 6 Comments

Sit Down

Sit Down

The A train usually puts me right to sleep. Literally. I turn on my iPod, let some U2 or The Killers crank in my ear, shut my eyes, and I’m magically transported 15 or so stops. That’s not news since I’m usually comfortable with sleeping on the train. Crowded or not, NYC train riders have become less misanthropic, to the point where giving up seats and waving at children isn’t an event but a novelty of NYC. Yet, I knew something funky was going down when, upon closing my eyes on 175th, my body wouldn’t let me sleep. My body’s asking me to be awake and alert for a reason.

At around 168th, the train gets really crowded. Tons of travellers from the hospitals, the 1 train transfers, and the bus stops in the area make their way into the subway car. Across from me, a few people try to avoid one particular seat that’s got gum on it. A few people pass it by, and an elder Asian lady looks at it, sits down in the seat right next to it, carefully avoiding the seat. Next stop: 145th, where a young, skinny dark-skinned Black man comes in, Rasta hat, hood wear comes in and proceeds to sit down in the seat right next to the Asian lady, the same one with gum on it.

Naturally, her first instinct, like everyone else before her on this trip, was to warn the guy to watch the gum. Of course, he pays her little attention. She taps him on his side to indicate the situation. He turns around and says, “Don’t fuckin’ TOUCH ME! Don’t fuckin’ touch me! I don’t want you touching me so don’t fuckin’ touch me!” And the lady defends herself, saying in broken English, “But there’s gum there …” and he continues, “I know there’s gum there, what the fuck, you think I’m blind or something?” (He didn’t see it there, but he strips it off with his one hand and flings it to the floor.) “If I had touched you, there would have been police all over this shit, cop squad and the whole 9 over here, so don’t fuckin’ touch me!”

She’s damn near sobbing, looks at him with disdain, and just turns to her Sudoku puzzle with a scowl on her face. I close my eyes, sighing, hoping not to mutter a word about how disgusting he is. After a few minutes, and a few more illogical rants, none of which I heard because my iPod had on one of my favorite songs ever (“All These Things That I’ve Done” by the Killers), I open my eyes again. As stops whiz by us, I notice him in deep concentration on a lesbian couple to my right. The first I saw had a short hair-cut, looked like she was going to work, and dressed more “masculine,” while the other pretty, Latina, perky, and stroking a Yorkshire terrier she has in one of those bags. . He’s there, elbow on knee, fingers to face, honing in on the more feminine of the two. He’s either in deep seduction or deep abhorrence.

At first, I only noticed that he was mouthing something to the girl. Trash-talking: par for the course from some of these dudes on the train. I thought it was no big deal. Then, 59th Street stop comes, and I wasn’t able to take off my headphones fast enough, but I heard the following spew from his trap:

” … why go out with her if you know she can’t give you kids? What you need is a fucking dick in your back! For real!”

And just runs off. I couldn’t believe this coward.

I looked towards the couple, particularly the more masculine, and just told her, “It’s fucked up. It’s fucked up.” She wraps her fist in her own hand before the rest of us look towards the two. We notice the more feminine one look at her partner and fall into her shoulder, crying her eyes out, scared. Moments like that will always resonate with me, a moment where those of us who witnessed this abuse rallied around this genuinely peaceful couple.

This is not another one of those pro-peace PSAs. You already know where I stand on LGBT issues, and I hate proselytizing too much. But I also know the value of calling people out for the miscreants they are. I respect religions and the right for people to believe what they will, but today reaffirms what’s wrong with some people.

To the guy who came on the train to harrass people today, I’m not sure what crawled up your sphincter  and ate your intestines this week, but your idiocy needs to stop. No one said anything to you nor did anyone interfere with your ability to live. It’s either you need a long hug or you need to rearrange your life. Nothing’s appropriate about attacking elder ladies who were trying to help you out or a couple that had nothing to do with you. If you think you’re a god, you’ve proven to be far less than that today. If you think what you saw was unnatural today, then maybe you need to tell your clothesmakers to stop exploiting little children to make the threads you have on.

If you think you proved yourself as a man today, you proved that you’re no better than the gum you flung to the floor. I wish that gum was just a little more stickier. Might give you a better reason to sit the hell down.

Jose, who can’t stand people like that …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 6

  1. MzVirgp

    I hope you know that you are a great storyteller as well as a great writer.

    It’s stories like this that almost (but not completely) makes me not want to ride the subway anymore. I still ride the subway, but it is worse in the morning when people are pushing and shoving each other to get in the train to get to work..

  2. talda

    there’s so much hate in the world and it’s really unfortunate and ugly.

    that said, i’d find it really hard to believe that this guy would actively practice any religion. i’m not well versed in other religions but i know for christianity the greatest commandment is love. love one another as Christ has loved us [john 15:12]. so even those christians that espouse hate are sinning against the Creator. funny the things you learn when you read a little deeper huh?

    never mind that it’s not up to us to judge. but now i’m veering way off topic.

    but there’s no way anyone can find any way to validate that kind of hate mongering. no one but the devil at least.

  3. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Well, I think talda we need to be conscious of all the types of religions out there, their beliefs, and the types of things that we’ve seen with every religion, major or minor. Of course top 4 religions in the world, only one (Buddhism) can claim they’ve never expanded in major ways through violence, so we need to look at the good and the bad with all, and proceed from there. But I don’t want to get into religion since I could go on.

    Secondly, thinking about it, some guy said the guy was just having a bad day. I would hate for that to be anyone’s “bad” day, because that’s just an excuse to espouse hateful feelings about someone. It’s more than a bad day, it’s nasty, and we need eradication.

  4. Miss Teacha

    You tell this story so vividly .. . i’ve got to do better about visiting your blog daily.

    And, how in the world do you sleep on the subway? Don’t you fear what could happen to you? You make me want to plan a NY trip just to “experience” the subway.

  5. mery

    Interesting story and very well narrated.It seems like bad things had happened to him in his life and/or was treated badly by police etc and he feels that then entitles him to treat everybody else like dirt.
    I bet hes got zero positive role models.It seems to me that he either needs lots of hugs and guidance or someone to firmly set him straight with a verbal admonishing but not in hateful way because hes probably already received alot of that but in a way that tells him that he cant go around terrifying women and making lude comments and that has to stop right now-maybe both.
    I just found your site-I hope you have more good articles like this.

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