My metro adventures!
After leaving the Shakespeare Folger Library, I walked the 3 blocks back to the South Capitol Metro Station. When I got down to the turn styles I ran into an altercation between a very tall pale skinned black boy and the African American Metro Station Manager. It wasn't at first readily apparent what was going on--it looked like she was trying to help him with his pass card. I used mine to open the gate, and as I did their conversation erupted. He shouted at her, "Fuck you, Bitch!" and slipped though the gate that I had opened right behind me, running past me toward the platform further below. He didn't make it down the stairs before a train that he wanted to get on pulled away.
When I got to the bottom of the escalator onto the station platform, the young man turned to me and asked me for money to help him. I said what I always say to anyone who asks me for money in a Metro Station, "I'm sorry. I don't carry cash." He then turned and asked someone else who declined to help him. He turned back in my direction and asked me again, and I smiled and said, "Remember? I don't carry cash." He said, "Oh, right." At which time another train arrived,and I just got on it--not concerned over which direction it was going in, but decided a change of venue was in order. And it was going in the wrong direction!
So I rode it to the next station and got off at the Eastern Market Metro Station. There were a few more people there, and I had 9 minutes to wait for the next train going in my direction, so I started to read the book that I had brought along. After about 4 minutes a young man--I'll say 25--stepped up to me on wobbly legs and asked me something in a thickly slurred Spanglish. I could tell in a moment that he was as drunk as a lord! Because he was mumbling, I leaned toward him and asked him to repeat his question. He needed help getting home. He indicated that he was looking for Elephant Plaza. Elephant Plaza? There is no Elephant Plaza. And then I thought, 'Oh, wait." And I asked, "Do you mean L'Enfant Plaza?" Through squinted inebriated eyes and after pursing his lips in thought, he burst into a smile and said, "Yes. Yes that's it! I need to find Georgia Avenue." Okay that would be another 8 stations after a transfer at L'Enfant Plaza Station, and I realized that the Washington National's game was also just over which meant things would be ridiculously crowded from L'Enfant Plaza on.
It was decision time. Do I turn my back on this drunk young man, or do I help?
I reached out and grabbed his forearm in my right hand and said, "Look. Mira. I am going that way, too. I will help you get to Georgia Avenue. Okay?" He sort of jerk his lolling head back and looked at me with a little shudder, and said, "Okay. Thank you."
His English was about as good as my Spanish so I tried to speak to him in Spanish and he tried to speak to me in English--at least we were on a level playing field. Playing by unspoken rules that his alcohol dulled brain seemed to intuite on its own.
Even in the over packed train cars, we drew attention from others. At one point a group of women were looking at him with open disdain and me with skeptical curiosity, and the young man said to me, "You are a good guy." I said, "No, I'm just like anybody else." He said, "No! I know....everybody else is escared of me." And I wanted to say, everybody else is scared of the fact that you loaded! But I said, "Not everybody." Then he looked over his shoulder at the four women and said, "They are escared of me." As if on cue, they all feigned a shocked expression at first him and then me. I said with a smile and looking across each of the afore mentioned ladies again, "But not everybody."
Later, after we had switched from the Orange Line to the Green Line, he said, "You are my Papi." And I laughed and said, "No. I'm not you're Papi." He continued, "I am espanish and you are my boss man." I retorted, "We are all the same." "No," he shot back emphatically, "I know." And I said, "Well, every person should be the same--everyone is equal." Then he gave me a big sloppy kiss on my cheek! This drew an involuntary reaction from everyone in the sardine packed subway car within view--and we were already the best show in the car! I just shot them all a great big "fuck you" smile!
As we approached Georgia Avenue Station he invited me to come home with him so we could have a drink together--like that's something he needed more of! I politely begged off and when the train stopped gave him a hug and made sure he had his backpack before sending him on his way. Then I sat down in the nearest seat and didn't give a single other person on the train so much as a second's courtesy of eye contact. Their role as audience was over, and I still had a chapter to finish in my book.