Saturday, January 20, 2007

Riding to Church

I’m riding the 6 train south from 86th Street – stealing glances at the middle-aged Latina woman that just sat down with an emphatic plop across from me. Her pants are too tight. She grabs the Sunday Daily News out of a black plastic bag. Why plastic bag? Why plastic? I burrow deep into my own magazine. At next glance the Dominican woman has been replaced by pimple-faced pubescent Chinese girl. She adjusts her eyeliner with a pink Hello Kitty mirror that folds.

I’m waiting for the J train to Brooklyn at Canal Street. The end of the platform smells less like urine than some. I would take a picture of the carefully angling tiles if I had a little camera. A young hoodlum echoes a basketball dribble; a Chinese woman reaches deep from the sound of things and spits onto the train tracks.

The train is here. I step into the first car in time to hear the conductor tell the men who were smoking cigarettes that they “had no respect.” They looked sheepishly defiant. The woman across from me yelled “Norma!” at Essex Street. The nerves in my ears rebel. Loud friends always sit as close as they can to me. Then, relief, I recognize the soft covered consonants of Thai. Thai is never loud. Norma pulls out a bun stuffed with sweet bean paste. A black grandmother in a long flowing black coat of textured velvet and matching hat, although it is at least 50 degrees outside today!, sits down to read her Daily Bread. She has a Jesus bag prominently displayed on her lap. Daily Bread inhaled, she grimaces, her face a mask of concentration, as she shifts the Jesus bag and files her nails. If you look up at the right time as the J leaves Essex and emerges on the Williamsburg Bridge, you can see the right hand of Lenin stretching out over the East Village.


Blogger Marilyn said...

life on the mta...ah, yes. my excursions r pretty boring since i quit my job at the hospital n no longer have a 2 hour commute 2 work via 2 buses n 3 trains. however, i can't say i miss the 'squashed like sardines' sensation from riding during rush hour or the selfish commuters who don't give a pregnant woman a seat.

1:25 PM  

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