Every New Yorker has a handful of Subway Stories, funny/bizarre/gross/touching sights they have witnessed on the MTA.
This is a Subway Story of my friend Sage:
I was riding along the uptown 1 train and this young kid got on blasting music from his cellphone. It was annoying everyone. He had a crazed look in his eye and what happened soon after the doors closed confirmed what I had thought: He was looking for a fight.
An old man he sat down next to him politely asked, “Could you please that down?” To which this kid, he couldn’t have been more than 18, exploded. “Who the @#$@ do you think you messing with? Huh? HUH? I DON’T CARE. I WILL GO BACK TO PRISON! I DON’T CARE! TRY ME AGAIN OLD MAN! TRY ME!” It was clear just by looking at him that he had, in fact, never been to prison. Or probably ever been arrested.
The old man got up out of his seat and walked away. Then the kid started staring at me. Now I probably should not have done this, but I asked him what he was looking at (it was clearly me) and he started to go off again.
This was very crowded subway car. Space cleared around him and me. It looked like a fight was about to go down. I stayed calm and talked to him in a relaxed, non-abrasive tone. Asking him to sit down, and calmly explaining that he was frightening other people.
I didn’t budge from my seat. He kept yelling his angry little head off at me.
Eventually he sat back down, steaming. A few stops later a guy from the other end of the car came and sat next to me. He gave me a nod and then started at the kid. After a few more stops he went over and sat next to the kid.
“Excuse me,” he said very politely, “Can I ask you a question?”
Now you have to understand, this guy looked tough. He was tall and had tattoos all over his neck and arms. The kid looked at him.
“Sure.” Said the kid in a I-don’t-care tone.
“I heard what you were saying before. About prison.” He paused “Now, I’ve been to prison. It’s not a nice place. Why would you want to go there?”
I was shocked. I had never seen anything like this in NYC before.
“Oh,” said the kid, “These people messing with me. They think they can-”
“You’re not hearing me” said the guy with the tattoos, ever calmer then before. “Prison is not a nice place. You don’t want to go there.”
I thought it was weird. And lovely. Kindness like that.
The kid got off a stop later. I don’t know if the guy with the tattoos “reached” him or not, but I know he reached out.
I introduced myself to the guy with the tattoos later. I thanked him for his kindness. He told me that he had made some mistakes and was thankful that he was able to get out of prison. And that he was now, just trying to keep it real and play it forward.
I haven’t seen that man since, but where ever you are sir, cheers. You are one heck of a guy.
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Have a Subway Story of your own? I want to hear it!