Friday, January 28, 2005

To the Haitian woman who asked me "Why dat?" this morning

“Why Dat?” she asked from the bench behind the subway turnstiles. She was asking the world more than me specifically, but her question was specifically motivated by my kicking of the turnstile after I went through it.

I realize it’s not rational to kick an inanimate object, and it wasn’t like I did a full roundhouse on the thing, it was just a quick shot with my boot in retaliation for giving me the “Swipe again at this turnstile” message two dozen times.

It’s cold, I realize that, so I had patience with the machinery the first couple of times I got the message.

Five more swipes of my card and I still can’t get through. Morning commuters pile up behind me forming a grumbling mass, looking at me like I’m doing something wrong. “Can’t this idiot swipe a Metrocard?”

Four more swipes and I ponder going to the next turnstile over, even though I know that means I could lose the fare that is in limbo somewhere between the card and the reader. But I can’t. That’s my two dollars and I can’t let the turnstile win.

I swipe fast. I swipe slow. I talk dirty to the turnstile to see if that will get it off.

Swipe again at this turnstile

I’m going to have to jump over this thing, I think, and I prepare myself for the embarrassment of being the only person above the age of 14 to be stopped by the transit cops for jumping a fare.

One more Hail Mary swipe.

Beep

GO $20.00 REMAINING

“Suck it, bitch!” I yell to the machine as I crank through the bars. On my way out of the other end I send the steel toe of my boot towards its metal base and it makes a loud clang.

“Why dat?” asked the Haitian woman.

I don’t know, really. Maybe it’s my frustration with a world that seems not to listen to reason, or my indignation that the MTA is going to raise fares while cutting service, or maybe it’s some sort of early-mid-life thing.

At least she didn’t hand me a copy of the Watchtower.

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