On The Tube

I read the following awhile ago, I found it on Tracey Benjamin’s Shutterbean site, a space that is always an interesting read. She does a great post every Friday called “I love Lists”. This was a post she highlighted and I thought this was a fabulous story:

Heard on the Subway: Talking About Your Gay Son

I was on my way to work, zoned out listening to some old school Shania Twain to get my life right, when two construction worker types got on the train at Penn Station.  They were both middle-aged white guys with Long Island accents, mustaches, dirty jeans — the type of guys you’d expect to see on a building site.  I caught a piece of their conversation when the music died before the song changed, and I decided to record them.

Normally, boring people and their boring conversations don’t interest me in the least, but the music dropped out right when Guy #1 said “My wife wants me to get fixed like a dog but I don’t see why she can’t just keep taking the pill.”  That in itself isn’t inherently interesting, but the fact that he was openly discussing it on a public subway train made me hit the record button real quick to see what else would come out.  I’ve been doing this for about 6 months now, trying to catch interesting things on the subway, but I haven’t had any luck so far because I ride boring trains.

Today was good though.

Guy #2:  No more kids for you two?
Guy #1:  No, she figures we’re both getting too old for a baby.
Guy #2:  How is your boy anyway?  Haven’t seen him in awhile.
Guy #1:  Oh John’s good, pitching this year varsity.
Guy #2:  He’ll definitely have the girls hanging around him now.
Guy #1:  Yeah if he had any time for them.
Guy #2:  Focused on baseball?
Guy #1:  Focused on boys.
Guy #2:  You’re shittin me!
Guy #1:  I kid you not.  Came out to me and Mary Ann bold as daylight last year.
Guy #2:  Well I’ll be damned!  I’m not supposed to know it but I overheard Patrick Junior tell his sister he might be gay not two months ago.
Guy #1:  We all saw that coming though.
Guy #2:  You’re the second person to say that.  How’d everybody see it but me?
Guy #1:  It was just a feelin Pat.  He was always a little soft, ya know?
Guy #2:  I guess you’re right.  But damn Charlie, we both have gay kids.  What do we do now?  Both our sons are gay.
Guy #1:  We don’t do anything.  We let em be gay and if some kid calls em a faggot we go to their house and raise hell with the parents like normal.
Guy #2:  Well I guess John and Lucinda won’t be getting together like we thought awhile ago.
Guy #1:  Guess not.
**long pause**
Guy #2:  Hey Charlie, you thinkin what I’m thinkin?
Guy #1:  I was for about half a second then it got weird and I started thinkin about somethin else instead.

By that point I was holding back a little tear, but they changed the conversation to something about a building code.  I thought about posting the video but I don’t know how to blur people’s faces.  Still, I thought this little exchange should be broadcast to the Internet.

And filed away under The Future of Dads with Gay Sons.

It made me think about my own journey. I love to read and I am truly embracing my traveling time as my reading time. Quite often I also listen to music as well. Some mornings that is all I do, listen to music and watch the world around me.

It is funny what you notice when you start looking. Especially when someone does something that wouldn’t ordinarly be funny but when, unbeknownst to them they are doing it in time with your music, it becomes incredibly funny! Like the gentlemen yesterday morning who was picking his nose in perfect beat to Kangaroo Court by Capital Cities. Nothing like watching a grown man go to town on his nose and it gets even better, he actually did the “pick, roll, fling” method; more than I needed to see at 7:23 in the morning.

Or, the couple who was having a very serious conversation that was bordering on an argument. Their actions got bolder and bolder, their lips got thinner and thinner and all the while, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number 3: Allegro was humming in my ears. Their discussion escalating before my eyes with the ever swift vibration of the strings.

Being on public transportation is like being in High school, there are pockets of people, they all belong to different cliques. There is the sleeping group who all sit at the end of a row, so they can lean their heads onto something. The group that is already taking business calls and furiously working on their laptops as if it is a life or death situation. There is the reading group and the music group; the construction worker group, who are normally huddled together and there is always someone amongst them who is rolling up a cigarette that they clearly can’t wait to light as once it is rolled they place it between their lips, as if trying to suck the nicotine from it as if it is the very marrow of life.

There is the group that have tried very hard to dress as though they don’t care, but they clearly do, their hair is always perfectly disheveled. There is the make-up gang, who put on more make-up in the course of 3 tube stops than I wear in a week. There are the men in tailored suits who look gorgeous and they know it. The girls who always look impeccably coiffed, with the perfect dress accented with heels of amazonian height, as if they have raided Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe and borrowed a Vera Wang and some Jimmy Choos for the day.

There is the coffee club, the ones who must have had 5 cups by the time they get on the tube and now they are drinking another one, their eyes looking slightly bloodshot, hands shaking. maybe a bead of sweat trickling down their brow.  There is also always someone giving their life story over the phone and they always look at the phone in disbelief when we go through a tunnel or underground and they lose service, like it has never happened to them before. There is also the running and bicycling group, who are normally drenched in sweat and I can only hope they shower before they change in to their suits.

It is interesting that more often than not it is a woman and not a man who willing gives up her seat for someone more in need of it. It is also the men who are most pushy in the mornings, they won’t let a woman step in front of them to get on the tube, they will shove right past her. I grew up in the South and I don’t know a true gentleman who would do that! It is also interesting to watch the adults getting onboard be rude to the traveling school children, like they are nothing, they push them out of the way, never uttering a word, they just grunt and point at them with witchy little fingers.  It truly annoys me; for one, those kids have just as much right to be there as you and two, some of them are so small and they are making this big journey by themselves every day, cut them some slack!

As with anything done in a routine you begin to see the same patterns, the same people, like the gentlemen I see almost every morning while waiting at Baker Street. He is nice looking, a muscular man, always neat in appearance even though his shoes and pants are covered in dried plaster and paint splatters, he gives off a bit of a tough vibe; I could say many things about him, but I would never say that he listens to soft rock and yet every morning if we happen to stand near each other, he has Lady in Red blasting through his headphones and his head is oscillating to the beat.

There is a girl who I see almost every morning on the train and funnily enough we even have the same tube journey yet she never smiles, even if I smile at her. She is always the first to jump off the train when it reaches the platform and all I see as she walks in front of me is her pony tail swishing behind her,  undulating back and forth like a horse’s tail, flicking off flies, while she scurries off to the tube. There is also a very nice blind gentlemen who has the most beautiful golden lab, who I have gotten to pet once or twice and on the rare occasion this gentlemen and I get to speak, he is very kind. He is always interesting to watch, people love the dog, but have little time for the man, they get annoyed and don’t want to move out of his way, he gets bashed into and huffed at. How little patience and manners some people have, always astounds me.

Besides people watching there are all kinds of interesting architectural features you get to see from your above ground tube journey. I pass a couple of brick facade buildings with the most enticing faded painted advertising signs. Sometimes I see families eating breakfast or someone getting ready in their flat when the tube slows down. I get to watch the city slowly come to life as it is too early for everyone to be out en masse on the roads just yet.

It’s quite nice being a passenger, letting someone do all the work, so I can sit and observe and be.

One thought on “On The Tube

  1. Joann

    “On the tube”…..I now know what that means!!! Thank you for this great piece of writing, your incredible insight………….and especially for a train ride into London I shall never forget!!! xoxo

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