In the meantime: laugh and smile

As you are meandering the different transitions life has thrown at you, don’t forget to laugh and smile along the way.

The other night I was on the subway. The subway in NYC is ripe for anything: entertainment, violence, lewdness. The entertainment factor can be improv comedians/actors, singers, dancers, or merely people watching your fellow straphangers. Caveat for people watching in NYC, New Yorkers are a touchy bunch. They will do things that should only be done in private, in a public forum yet still have an expectation of privacy. For example, I am on the subway platform waiting for the train. I’m reading when out of the corner of my eye, I observe what I assume is a street performer until the person starts to totally undress on the platform. Being street savvy, I averted my eyes and continued reading. A few tourists stared at the man. He gets upset, “what are you looking at mind your own business, like you never seen somebody change clothes before!”  No normal people don’t undress and change clothes on the subway platform. I relayed the incident to a native New Yorker who replied the tourists should have minded their own business. I pointed out to her therein lied a flaw. In the public square, dude had no expectation of privacy.

Anyway, back to my title of laughing and smiling along the way. I was on the subway, having adapted to my new environment, I know to avoid certain things. For one, if a subway car is empty, you aren’t lucky don’t enter it because someone has probably crapped in it. I learned that one the hard way on an express train and couldn’t get out of the car with the crapping man from 125th until 59th St. Me and six other straphangers huddled together at the opposite side of the car trying in vain to get the door between cars to open. We made a pact, when the train stopped whoever got out first would hold the door for the rest of us to get into the other train car. Once we completed our mission, we laughed at the other straphangers who thought they were lucky to find an empty car with seats and were stuck in the crapping man car.

I digress again. So I am on the subway and I notice two young girls on the platform (between 18-20). One girl is skinny and the other girl is more like Two Tons of Fun. They were the “ra-ra,” “around the way” type. I was not in the mood for a boisterous ride home. I wanted to get in a separate car. No such luck. I decided to avoid eye contact and hope that they would keep to themselves. Whatever. Because they couldn’t get seats together that did not prevent them from conversing loudly across the aisle from each other. After the first stop, a drunk white dude gets on with his drunk Hispanic girlfriend. Drunk dude sits next to me and Two Tons of Fun.  Drunk Girlfriend sits next to skinny girl.  Drunk dude wreaks of alcohol, so in addition to loud mouths, my clothes may stink. After the second stop the skinny girl says loudly, “I can’t understand what you’re saying because I’m Dominican and you’re Puerto Rican.” Two Tons of Fun bursts out laughing. I look around and notice an older guy, old enough to be her father and think – surely he’s not the one trying to hit on her. Surely old dude was! Old dude replies, “I speak English, Spanish, and Puerto Rican.” Now I’m trying to pretend like I’m not paying attention to the conversation, but I’m like what?! Other straphangers also pretending like they aren’t listening are whispering “Did you hear that guy – he speaks english, spanish, and puerto rican?” Old dude does not realize skinny chick isn’t interested and she’s a ra-ra girl who has no problem publicly humiliating him. The seat next to her opens up and she tells old dude “come sit next to me.” Old dude is undeterred and sits.

Skinny chick turns to old dude, “so you’re into Dominican/black chicks?” Two Tons of Fun makes a comment that I didn’t hear.  Old dude says, “who is she?” Skinny chick, “That’s my mother” (jocosely). Old guy, “I don’t believe it, I want to see her ID and social security number.” Two Tons of Fun, “What are you trying to do get a green card in my name?” Bursts of laughter. Skinny chick, “so do you smoke weed?” Old guy, “don’t smoke weed because it makes me” (he slumps over). Skinny chick, “weed don’t do that, that’s dope only dope does that to you.” Drunk dude cracks up. Skinny chick, “now don’t make fun of my friend, we’re getting to know each other, you might hurt his feelings.”

She looks at old guy, “so you married? I don’t want you going home telling your wife about me and then she comes looking for me. So how old are you?”  Old dude mumbles something. Two Tons of Fun, “40, 48, 50 – how old are you, pick one?” Skinny chick to old guy, “you old as my daddy, you got kids?” Old guy, “I have a 4 yr, 8 yr, 12 yr, 18 yr.” Skinny chick, “that’s alot of kids…do they all have the same mother?” Old guy, “no.” Skinny chick, “Four babies mamas! You’ve been busy. Are you paying child support?” We pull into the next stop. Old guy exclaims, “I see my mother on the platform, I must go!” Skinny chick, “but you said you were getting off at the next stop.”  Old guy, “I must go!” He runs out of the train. By now half the train is laughing.

Drunk girlfriend, “He ran out of here like his a** was on fire. Guess he wanted to make you baby mama number 5!” Two Tons of Fun, “dude couldn’t take the heat when asked about the child support.” Drunk dude, “What got me was when he said weed makes him nod off and you were like ‘dope does that not weed.’ You right, that is straight up dope! Just when I thought this was going to be a long a** boring train ride, this made the ride.”

Train pulls into next stop, I get off, Two Tons of Fun gets off, and drunk dude and girlfriend get off. I am not that creative I can’t make this up. Just another day riding the subway in NYC.

One more…

A couple of months ago, it’s about 8pm and I’m taking the train home. All of a sudden, I hear “Ca Ca Coo Coo.” There is a man crowing like a rooster and pigeon, wearing a hen hat. Yes, really. I think to myself, don’t make eye contact and hope he doesn’t sit next to you. He sits in the opposite corner. It was fine until some stupid tourists started to take his picture. Lord have mercy the games have begun! To make it worse, a disturbed man sits next to me. Rooster man gets mad at the tourists and start yelling “America has been warn about me, I’m the bird man – ca ca coo coo.” Apparently the birdman was getting too much attention, because the crazy next to me starting rocking and mumbling, “don’t worry about the birdman need to worry ‘bout me.”  Oh yeah, just a normal day riding the subway in NYC. Obviously, I moved and stood by the doors in case of emergency.
Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.