The Connotation of Bandannas
December 18, 2019
December 28, 2016
Historically, I've had a very thin skin. During my time on New York City streets, I put up with a variety of uniquely ignorant people. This encounter was memorable. And thankfully, I kept a record of it for posterity. Contrary to popular belief, New York City is diverse in skin color only. Diversity of thought? Bull.
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New York City is full of characters. I was one of many. One of the things I did to conserve my energy was to split my sleep schedule between two or more different trains. One December afternoon, as the Sunset Park library closed, I headed out and boarded the next Ⓡ train that arrived going to 95th St. Most sleeping individuals on Ⓡ trains were left undisturbed unless the train was being taken out of service. I was usually more cooperative than my homeless peers when it came to deboarding a yard-bound train.
About twenty minutes into that initial trip, I was confronted by a passenger who asked me why I was wearing a bandanna. I initially rolled my eyes, and decided to humor the passenger. I told him exactly why I used it: Because the air quality in the subways is crap, and I constantly had to clear my face and airways of the soot that polluted my face. I actually carried wet wipes with me wherever I went to ensure it wouldn't build up. The unsanitary environments in NYC subways would give way to disease if I wasn't cautious.
The passenger wasn't satisfied with my answer and started talking down to me. He eventually tried to report me to law enforcement, who did greet me at 86th Street. I was able to allay any concerns they had, and provided a fabricated but feasible story to them, and they let me go. I re-entered 86th Street after going around the block long enough for one train trip to pass, ensuring I wouldn't run into any of the people who wrongfully called the cops on me.
It's something that happened to me often. People thought they were doing the right thing, but in reality, they simply wanted to feel important in a world where they were insignificant. And I was the easy target to exploit that fantasy. It didn't work for my aunt, who pulled the same antic. I had become accustomed to clarifying the circumstances with law enforcement. It would prove valuable at a later date.
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