The A Train

Parallel Expectations and Cursing on the Train (NSFW)

Jose Vilson Jose 2 Comments

The A Train

The A Train

A man in one of the corner seats on the downtown A train coming from Washington Heights with a long trench coat, a blue book bag, and his iPod blasting some really nice jazz enjoys a brief nap from there to West 4th. He just came back from another long day at the “office,” where the customers and his co-workers run this man ragged, to the point that this becomes a daily routine.

This day, it’s different.

He starts his napping routine when, about 3 stops later, a gang of high-school aged girls clad in orange and black baseball uniforms come in uproariously, filling up the train with shouts and laughter. He recognizes one of his students in the crowd, but doesn’t say a word since he doesn’t want to infringe on this team comradrie, where the banter only becomes accelerated with the pent-up adrenaline. Fingers sway. Necks move from side to side. Some girls turn pensive. Some sit in the laps of their best friends and boyfriends.

The rest of the passengers look at them. The faces range from angry and annoyed to questioning and slightly perverted. But they all have one thing in common: low expectations for these girls. Unsure what to make of them, they dismiss these baseball players as loud mouth future babymamas.

That is, except for the man with the iPod on. He laughs at the scene, and wonders why the voices. He unplugs one of his earbuds:

“Just go! Just go!”
“I don’t know, don’t we got a game that day?”
“Fuck that shit, fuck that!”
“Coach’ll be mad, just forget it.”

She pulls out her awards ceremony invitation, looking at it longingly. It’s got a beautiful cap with tassel on it, indicating that this is for the seniors. The man can read.

“No, my nigga, it’s a fuckin’ awards show, a baseball game isn’t even that important.”

The man smirked. Not because everyone else was stunned at all the fucks, shits, and niggas flung around so injudiciously as these urban teenagers are wont to do. Rather, beneath all that, we get a sense that these girls are mature in a way that surpasses the passersby’s standards.

And the man gets home, takes off his coat, and checks his Facebook. In it, a teacher writes in her newsfeed, after spending hours and days and weeks on planning something just so her students can cut class right before it happened:

“Teacher is completely demoralized.”

The man sighs, and says, “One student at a time.”

Jose, who is that man …

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 2

  1. talda

    i will admit that i’m usually one of the people who’d look at that group with a wary eye but only because they are so loud and obviously interrupting my nap. i’m not very pleasant when rudely awaken.

    but maybe now i won’t be so quick to condemn. maybe. it is my nap afterall. one reader at a time

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