Subway Anecdotes, Vol. 1

A man tries to convince another that he is a player. The rest of us pretend not to hear. My headphones give the impression that I can’t hear, but it’s a show, all the better for eavesdropping. But that becomes more difficult when everything blends together, then blocked out by the announcement of our next destination, first in English, then in Spanish.

Not my stop, so I have more time to watch wave after wave of people head for the same empty seat, because they don’t yet know that it is covered in vomit. But they find out, and all spin away with the same haste of those who came before. History repeating itself in micro. We could make a sign, we could tell others, we could prevent the mistake we all know they will make. But we do nothing. What does it have to do with us?

A white man with dreadlocks and a patchy beard steps up to me, brandishing some indiscernible food in a wrapper.

“Dude, try this burrito.” I make a show of taking my headphones off.


“Dude, this is the best burrito. Here.”

He holds it closer to me. The chewed edges now reveal a circumference of tortilla.

“No, thanks.”

“Dude, you have to try this. It’s the bomb.”

He graduated high school in the early 2000s.

“Nah, I’m good, man, it’s all you.”

Another kid grabs the burrito out of the man’s hand and takes a giant bite. The intercom announces the arrival at my destination.

“I don’t give a fuck,” the newcomer says through a mouthful of burrito. The burrito offeror nods repeatedly, eyeing the newcomer like family. The door opens, and I exit the car.