Strangers We Know

There are strangers we all know. We see them from afar and stand next to them. They are the neighbors we haven't met.

I work in the heart of Manhattan, yet live deep in the heart of Brooklyn. I ride the subway for about 90 minutes a day. That's a lot of time to observe, to study, and to understand the strangers around me.

The Angry Man

I was taken out of my usual subway trance this morning by an angry man.  

He looked into my subway car with disapproving eyes, mysteriously upset with myself and all who dared to ride in our car.  He placed his hands on his hips and shook his head… he was incredulous. 

Was it my blank stare in his direction?  Was it that no one asked him how his morning was going?  Was he upset that I had forgotten to roll out the red carpet?  Whatever the reason, as we sped away and the angry man faded out of sight, I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened. What had ruined this man’s day? 

The truth is, the Angry Man will remain the Angry Man, and we’ll never really know the reason his morning was ruined.  So the next time you see the Angry Man, don’t ask questions, it’s probably best to just wish him a good day.

The Softy Within

After a long and arduous journey from Virginia to Brooklyn, I finally arrived at JFK airport around 12 am. Unfortunately, the trip still wasn’t complete. I had at least an hour’s ride back on the A train before I could kick back and give my feet some much needed rest. Being as that it was 12 at night deep in Brooklyn, I had a sneaky suspicion I’d see some quality characters on my way home.  

After about 10 minutes a large, hulking hispanic man entered the train. Immediately, a few nerdy looking white kids shifted in their seats, crossed their legs and averted their gazes. Emmanuel(that’s what I’ll call the large hispanic) quietly walked down the aisle and took a seat beside me. Admittedly I turned slightly, but I did my best to look tough and unfazed (this is very difficult considering I’m the whitest kid ever (literally, I don’t think they come any paler)). Emmanuel was wearing an Ed Hardy shirt, a Mets hat, and Adidas tennis shoes. I assumed he was no trouble, but nonetheless a tough, typical New Yorker.

Immediately after I’d concluded my study, Emmanuel reached into his backpack and slowly and carefully withdrew a comic book. This issue of The Incredible Hulk looked pristine and thoughtfully taken care of. Emmanuel dove into the pages with a sheepish look on his face. Like he knew he was loveable loaf, soft on the inside but with a hulking New York outside. He was not the roughian strangers admonished, he was a dreamer. Emmanuel was just a guy looking to escape through the pages of a carefully looked after comicbook.