While many of my highschool classmates got to study abroad and tour the world, I got to tour the armpit of America.
The Round Up Presents:
The Word on The Street
I had just unsuccessfully attempted to take a leak in the nearest bathroom, almost ejecting my lunch as I walked in. The odors that secrete from public restrooms in New York City defy the laws of nature. The only evidence needed to sway a climate change denier is a subway bathroom in NYC. If humans are capable of producing those kinds of odors, destroying the planet through CO2 emissions is small potatoes.
Chernobyl - The Hindenburg Disaster - Bathrooms in NYC. All catastrophes in modern science.
I was leaning on a wall staring up at the monitor showing the departure times. As much as I loved breathing recycled air and farts, I pretty much had had enough of the city. Between glances up at the display terminal and my watch I'd pass time by watching all the different faces that passed by. It never made sense that we don't define our cities by our homeless populations, I thought to myself.
"Chicago has the best pizza."
“Philadelphia has Rocky.”
We define our cities through these 'things,' when we could be defining them by the cities themselves. The homeless populations. The blood-pumping veins of our cities are the homeless vagrants laying on the sidewalks heckling us for change. If our cities and townships could speak they'd be the people picking cigarette butts off the ground and shouting bible verses in the subway. While some people entertain illuminati theories and conspiracies involving a staged moon landing, I hypothesize that hobos make-up the infrastructure of the United States. Only when the hobos are gone will our society resort to full-fledged anarchy.
A few minutes had passed and I decided to do the American thing - out of sheer boredom, go buy myself something to sip on.
I got in line at Dunkin' Donuts and after several minutes heard a shout from behind me.
I turned around to see a tall, lanky figure bundled beneath several layers of clothing holler from down the hall.
Grabbing almost everyone's attention in line, I was oblivious to the fact that he was directing his yells at me and not one of the other two-hundred-fifty people standing around.
"You know something? He walked closer, taking off his hood and revealing the dark wrinkled complexion of an old black man.
"Yeah?" I asked, both unsure if I was the intended recipient and/or if he was intending to stab me with a shiv made of scrap metal.
"Man, I gotta tell you. You look a lot like my father."
"Yeah, he used to be white like you until he changed to black. It's a compliment ‘cause he was a handsome guy."
So there I stood. In line at Dunkin' Donuts amongst a bunch of suit-wearing yuppies, being told (by what I presume to be a crazy homeless man) how resembling I was of his former-white skin father. As much as I wanted to blend in with the regulars to avoid unwarranted conversations like the one I was having - apparently I stuck out like a sore thumb. Whether it was the grout-fit I was wearing or the private-school labeled lacrosse bag draped over my shoulder, this guy spotted me from the other side of the platform and decided to spark up a conversation. He never asked for money or a train ticket, just told me how handsome his father was and why he made the life decision to convert to black.
“... The ladies were all over him...”
“... And he says to the guy...”
‘... he soon realized, it's not easy being a black man...”
Eventually ending up at the front of the line, I looked over at the stranger who up until this point hadn't stopped talking - unsure of what this interaction would have next for me. He tipped his beanie, walked away and started yelling across the station to the next person.
A bystander who was standing between the two of us, shook his head and sighed, "pfft, some people man."
He went back to ripping packets of sugar into his latte before biting into an egg and cheese sandwich. His phone rang and he raised his hand to his ear, accepting the call through his bluetooth earpiece.
"Hey Johnny, how's the car treating you?"
He wiped his hands on his peacoat jacket before bumping his way into the crowd of people.
"No fucking way!" he yelled. Letting out a loud and obtrusive cackle he dissipated into the fray of New York City.