Friday, September 12, 2008

Uncle Ben Parker

I hate the New York City Transit system. My daily commute is unequivocally the worst part of my life, without question. There are absolutely zero personal space boundaries and I spend the whole ride restraining myself from choking the pregnant nun who just stepped on my shoes for the eighth time. Be it deliberate or unintentional, it takes every iota of inner strength to suppress the rage bubbling beneath the surface when my chi is unbalanced. I am not ordinarily hostile but I am in touch with my inner Sprewell and my anger does not discriminate. I am certain there may be others who feel the same as I do and 2 of these individuals decided to make my morning commute quite entertaining this week.

I was on my way to work on Monday and as the train doors opened, passengers spilled out in their normal fashion, much like an overflowing toilet after an all night White Castle binge. Out of no where, 2 guys exploded from the train as I tried to enter and began fighting for what I can only assume was due to shoving and pushing. I don’t mean just exchanging words. I mean full blown kicking and punching. I was the lucky recipient of an errant kick to the sternum and the flying sneaker that belonged to said round house. Fuck coffee. Nothing wakes you up like a judo kick to your upper intestine. A relatively young male eventually broke up the altercation and the 2 warring factions went about their businesses. The loser (after having your head sent into the stair railing repeatedly, you are the loser) retreated up the stairs and the other guy was back on the same train standing in front of me and on his way to work. The entire melee managed to take place all within one stop of the Pacific Avenue D train line (now that’s impressive). This was not another case of the Mondays.

The funny thing is I wanted to stop them from fighting because it just felt wrong watching these guys go at it and not do anything. 2 things kept me from interfering however. Firstly, the fear of retaliation directed towards me was partially to blame. I don’t aspire to be the guy on the cover of the Daily News with the headliner “Good Samaritan Stabbed Seventeen Times in Forehead”. The main reason I did not intervene however was because I had an 8’oclock conference call and I just couldn’t be bothered (I was running late as always). Showing up to work in blood stains is not the professional impression I strive to be remembered for. I embody the typical New Yorker in that if the tree does not fall in my forest, the tree did not fall at all. Basically, I can be self absorbed.

This event was reminiscent of another instance in which I could have intervened in an altercation but opted not to. This was several years ago on a Friday night in lower Manhattan around 14th Street and 3nd Avenue. As I was coming out of a 5 star KFC, I see these two guys going at it. One is clearly being destroyed as he is repeatedly kicked in the head and face. It is one thing if there is an actual fight going on but this was one sided and bordering manslaughter. It was quite gruesome. I just watched in awe like a deer in headlights. A passer by eventually stopped this fight also.

In both of these instances, I was physically more imposing than the individuals who stopped the fights but I still don’t understand why I just stood there and watched. I have been in fights before and although I don’t relish confrontation, I don’t fear it either. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in New York will expose you to all forms of paramilitary training. I have seen people shot to death and have had to fight multiple individuals on several occasions. These occurrences desensitized me to violence first hand but also taught me the valuable skill of running. I am no tough guy and Usain Bolt aint got shit on me when there are multiple individuals in hot pursuit. Long story short, beef is not foreign to me and I think I know how to react accordingly. So why did I turn into a flapping labia when these altercations occurred? Not sure if it was self preservation but if I am not willing to take some sort of social responsibility, even for other people’s actions and even in times of danger, what good am I to the community? Sounds overly righteous and few can believe anyone is that selfless but those 2 scrawny guys who stopped the fights felt a civic duty to intervene so my feeling can’t be that far fetched. Few would agree that I had any obligation to end these scuffles but I can’t help but feel like a punk bitch for allowing them to persist. If this happens again, I probably will intervene and I will probably get shot in the process but at least some nice things will be said about me at my funeral.


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