My day at work today centered around getting pissed off about the upcoming war. On cue, the commute home got even more interesting.
First, for the comedy relief of the day. I’m waiting for the N/R train on the Cortlandt Street platform, when I look across the track and notice this older gentleman, probably in his mid-sixties, dressed conservatively in a gray suit, casually drop his paper on the platform and stroll away. My first thought was:
Ok. He just blatantly littered. Maybe that’s how people acted before Woodsy the Owl. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
So I did, and went back to scanning my own rag… and that’s when I hear a splashing sound down on the track.
In the midst of the afternoon commute rush, this same guy is urinating onto the tracks from the edge of the platform. No one knows what to do. All of us were deer in the headlights, caught watching this unfold. The guy didn’t look drunk and was dressed in a nice suit. He eventually finishes, but the kicker? He strolls back to his paper, picks it up and goes back to reading.
So I finally get on the train and manage to find a seat. At the next stop, the women next to me gets off and a guy squeezes between the doors and sits down in her place. Nothing out of the ordinary.
During my daily dose of conservative subway people watching (i.e. don’t look at anyone for more than two seconds and only in glances), I notice the new guy reading a miniature copy of something that looks like Arabic, bobbing his head up and down… pausing… and then mumbling to himself. He then reopened the finely bounded/crafted book for a half second, looked up in the air, and went back to mumbling. Repeat cycle.
Now, I’ve been traveling the NYC subway system since I was a kid, and to my best recollection, the only people I’ve ever noticed reading like that have been Orthodox Jews traveling with me from Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan. So here I find myself during the month of "Shock and Awe," sitting next to a guy with a mustache as thick as Saddam’s, dressed in a green army jacket, mumbling to himself while reading Arabic prose.
Welcome to New York City, the cultural Mecca of Western Civilization—the only place where one can feel enlightened daily by the vast diversity of people surrounding you, yet simultaneously fear for your life because of the actions of your government and media outlets.
I’m pretty sure (about 99 & 44/100%) that this guy was praying and looking inward during a rough time in his life. This behavior occurring any time pre-9/11 or leading up to war wouldn’t have caught my eye or stirred my hand to share here. Under the current circumstances, this had me second guessing my safety.
This type of irrational fear is what the majority of this country doesn’t understand when they blindly back an irrational war.
The “red states” of this nation don’t land anywhere near the top twenty terror spots to hit in America (I have the celebrity map, you know). So while Billy Bob and soccer mom 12,614 “support the government fully to protect us” in very vaguely defined ways, people over here in NYC start to look for exits whether we’re underground, on the streets, or inside our office buildings.
I hate the fact that these thoughts even crept into my skull. As hard as it has been to be a New Yorker over the last few years, being a Muslim New Yorker must take the cake for “king of all shitty positions.”
Well, I guess it’s better than being Muslim in Ohio.