The Art of Tongue Biting

This past Saturday while heading downtown on the 1 train, I had the unfortunate experience of sharing a 10 minute commute with half a dozen or so loud and obnoxious teenagers. They had obviously been drinking and smoking, as they reeked of alcohol and marijuana.

Every other word from their mouths were either expletives or the word n-word. Each time the n-word was used, I could feel it cutting away at the fabric of my being. As I looked around, I could tell that the other passengers were equally offended.

I made eye contact with an older African American gentleman (possibly in his late thirties). He had a bothered look on his face. Judging by his large build and hands, he could have been a construction worker or a former linebacker. I can tell that he wanted to say something, but he turned away from me and ignored the young men.

I turned to my right and I saw a sea of uncomfortable faces, but no one addressed the language or behavior of these young men. Black, white, young, old, visitor or resident, we were all held hostage by this unabashed show of ignorance.

My heart began to race, with my fist clinched as I glared in their direction. What would I say? How would I say it? These kids were drunk and high. If they had the audacity to drop the n-word so recklessly, how would they respond if I approached them? It was becoming unbearable .

As I started to work up the nerve to address them, their stop came and they exited the train at Times Square. As loudly and obnoxiously as they were on the train, they mobbed the platform and continued to parade their display of ignorance and disregard in public.

I guess times have changed. I have never seen a group of white kids use the n-word so openly. Do you think they would have exhibited the same behavior if we were in Central Harlem or East New York?

Afterwards I felt bad for not speaking up. But the more and more I reflect on the whole incident, it was probably the best decision. They were inebriated and ignorant. I’m not sure how productive or destructive that interaction would have been. I simply had to show restraint for 10 minutes, imagine having to show that kind of self control for an entire lifetime.

1 train
The downtown 1 train stopping at 96th street on the upper west side of Manhattan.



I Wish a #*?@! Would

I received an email Thursday evening from the league. The final standings placed us as the #3 seed. Playoffs! But now I only had one day to get the information out to my kids and their families. What a logistical nightmare (courtesy of Sandy).

The game was to be played on Saturday at noon, against our league rival. It would be my 3rd time facing this team in the post season. They have an outstanding coach. She does a great job preparing her athletes.

I decided to have a one hour practice before the game. That means I had to wake up early on Saturday, a cardinal sin in the world of teaching. To add injury to insult, the trains were making all local stops from Harlem to Brooklyn (courtesy of Sandy) .

At 42nd street, a shabby, homeless looking woman boarded the train. She reeked of alcohol and she looked as if she had not bathed in weeks. Her hair was matted and tangled. Her skin was wrinkled and had a dark dusty film over it. She looked as if she emerged from rubble from a fallen building.

It is obvious that she boarded the train to silicate donations from riders. I could not make out what she was saying or what her “message” was, as I was listening to Spotify on my iphone 4s, but judging by the facial expressions of the passengers on the train, it must have been inappropriate for, lack of a better word. No one looked like they were willing nor wanted to assist.

She stood about 10 feet or so away from where I was standing with her back to me. Once she was done with her soliloquy, she began yelling something at the passengers and then the unthinkable happened. Out of frustration, she spat on two women passengers who were sitting in front of her. Then she began to walk about the train. The passengers parted like the Red Sea, making room for the deranged women. DAMN! I thought to myself, punch me, push me, kick me, but please don’t spit on me. I would have gone medieval.

The two middle-aged women held each other and began to cry. The train was packed and everyone saw what happened, but no one said anything. People pretended as if nothing happened. You could see the discomfort on everyone’s faces, but no words.

I became angry. My mind said to go over to her in physically remove her from the train myself. But I had to be rational.

At the next stop, many passengers got off. I’m not sure If it was their stop or if they were trying to escape the madness. I immediately sought out the conductor a few cars over. I got his attention and told him what happened. He held the train and I and went looking for her.

I stepped on to the train and yelled out to the other passengers,  “WHERE DID SHE GO?!” No one responded. They began to look at me as if I was the crazy one. By now she had left the train. As the train stood at the platform, I continued to search for this crazy woman and then I looked across the platform and there she was soliciting change from other riders.

I told the conductor that she off of the train. I identified her and he got on the dispatch system. He waited for me to board and the next thing I heard was, “please stand clear o the closing doors.”

What made me even more upset than the women’s actions, is the total lack of action taken by those in the train who witnessed the entire ordeal. No one from the MTA  came over to check up on the two victims.

And to think, next year fare is going to increase. I kept saying to myself, “I wish a —– would!”– `a la Cedric the Entertainer.

Just to think, after all that, I went on to coach a hard fought game, but we could not pull it off. The final score was 6-16. Ousted once again. We dropped too many passes and missed too many opportunities. Damn, maybe next season.

An intoxicated woman blatantly disrespects an elderly passenger on the MARTA, while others standby and watch (2008).