Wednesday, July 03, 2024

I switched to the crowded A heading back from work, at Canal. I could tell from the platform already that there was a weird situation inside the car, a space not properly occupied by bodies. When I entered I saw it was a Citibike with two teens sitting on it, one on the front wheel, one straddling the seat, the one on the wheel younger, maybe fifteen. They smelled of smoke like they’d just been getting high. I brushed by the younger one to the left with a little difficulty and stood in the little space that was left between them and the end of the car, the seats occupied and a couple other people standing.

It was hard to ignore the inappropriateness of this massive object, the heavy, clumsy Citibike, in this context. It could only have been found or stolen by these guys—there’s no other reason for it to be here. Yet I watched everyone ignore it, so I did too. Then I perceived the young kid trying to get my attention. I pulled a wired earbud out of my right ear, warily, and nodded at him.

“Are you listening to me?” he asked.

I nodded.

“If you want, I can make your earbuds wireless,” he declared, making a snip-snip gesture with his fingers. “Just cut ‘em off.”

I shook my head and smiled. “Nah, I’m good,” I said.

“You sure?”


At this point I expected I don’t know what. Laughter. From him, from both of them—derisive laughter. It was funny after all. Here I am, the only person left in the world wearing dumbass wired earbuds. The kid says, lemme help you out. I can make ‘em wireless. Snip snip. It was funny what he said and I waited for him to laugh. He did not.

“OK,” he said airily, and looked away. As though he’d I dunno, just offered me a stick of gum. Nothing in his demeanor indicated that he was the least bit insincere. His friend didn’t react, or wasn’t paying attention. At the next stop the older kid threw an empty plastic bottle out onto the platform just as the doors were closing. It just missed a woman walking by and clattered around on the concrete. A small insolent gesture. The younger kid didn’t seem to watch or care.

At Jay Street I said excuse me as I got back out and that was all, I was out on the platform with everybody else, just switching to another train.