Monday, January 12, 2009

Subway adventures - Round 1

Yesterday, after schlepping around my apartment for about four hours, I convinced myself to head out to Brooklyn to walk around a bit. I waited for the G train for about twenty minutes until I came to the conclusion that it wasn't running (what's new?) So instead, I hopped onto the R to union square and transferred to the L train from there. On the way to union square, a woman and her little boy (maybe five or six years old) sat down next to me. I had my headphones on but after hearing her voice raise above my music, I turned my volume down so the writer in me could eaves drop. The woman looked to be in her mid-thirties, wearing a jean button-down shirt, a man's jacket, dirty jeans and a pair of boots. I could see the toe from one of her socks. I immediately felt like something was wrong with this situation because she was shaking, couldn't sit still for a moment, frantically moving about, shouting random things at people around us and kept telling the little boy to be quiet, even when he wasn't talking. I sat there for a little while, watching the little freckle-faced kid sneak sips of her coffee while she was trying to apply makeup. Every time she'd attempt to put on her lipstick, the train would slow down or speed up and the bright red lip color would go everywhere except for her mouth. The little boy watched intently and giggled each time it would happen, which made me want to laugh...but I had to keep my cool if I wanted to keep up the facade of listening to my ipod! At some point, the little boy (he looked like his name could have been something like Ralph, or maybe Shamus) asked his mother why they couldn't stay at daddy's house like they used to. Apparently the boy didn't like staying wherever they had last night. The woman told him that his dad was only using her "to sleep with" and that they were going to a new house where he could pretend that this man was his "Daddy". The only catch was that Shamus had to stay in the living room while she took "care of business". He told her that he missed school and she told him that school wasn't the "priority" at the moment. She would stand up and sit down. Stand up...take a few steps and then sit back down. He kept following whatever she did. She kept asking, "Do you understand what I'm saying?" and he kept distractingly replying "No..." while he stared at other people on the train. I couldn't make sense of any of what his mother was saying, neither could Shamus apparently. The entire time I just wanted to kidnap him. His tiny pants were filthy. Union Square approached quickly and I had to end my spygame. As I was leaving, I heard the woman say "that girl had cool boots" and the little boy said "YEAH!" really loud.

The rest of my day was plagued by what I witnessed on the subway. I felt so guilty for that little boy. He was dealt such a bad hand of cards at such a young age. I was probably about 10 years younger than his mom and I could have offered him such a better life. When I eventually arrived to Brooklyn, vintage shopping seemed so futile! I felt too guilty to do meaningless shopping while there were little kids out there who had to follow their mom from apartment to apartment while she was "taking care of business". Whatever that means. I know that this sort of thing happens all over the country, but a lot of times I feel that it is just so much more apparent in this city. I see adults struggling each day and yes, I feel bad for them. However, I know that there are resources out there that can help them. Whether they choose to take advantage of those resources is one thing....but as far as little kids - they are helpless.

1 comment:

Angelina said...

Hey Ty, it's Angelina. When I was living in San Francisco my daily commute to work on the Muni held many similar situations such as that. Eventually I just stopped paying attention because the guilt will eat at you the entire day and overwhelm you. It does make you appreciate your own life though.

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