random train encounters: "have a good night"05 May 2017
just another random train encounter story here.
two weeks ago, i was on the orange line home when a guy asked me why i was reading malcolm x’s autobiography. thus began another random train encounter (sidenote: the number of random people who have spoken to me while reading this book has been orders of magnitude higher than any other time in my life… mad interesting).
i told him lots of other books i read reference it and it just felt like it was finally time i read it for myself. as we continued to talk about it for a bit, our conversation took me back to my gainesville days. this tall black guy reminded me of so many of my gainesville outdoor friends. what really triggered the memory was that he had that familiar, specific smell of sweat and urine particular to poor folks living outdoors. during my catholic worker days i think i had become immune to that smell or even embraced it. i know i’m far from those roots now because the odor was difficult to stomach. instead of triggering empathy, like it used to, it triggered revulsion (how far have i fallen?).
as the guy (whose name i didn’t ask, another sign of my fall) wielded his cane to help himself off the train, without thinking i said “have a good night.”
without missing a beat, he looked back at me, half-way through door, then kept hobbling forward and said, “i ain’t had one ‘a those in a long time, baby.” i watched him shuffle towards the stairs as the train shuttled away.
damn. wtf am i doing with my life?
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