Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Day On The Subway

I ride the subway nearly everyday, and it's actually quite relaxing. The cars are clean and you get where you're going a lot quicker than riding the bus above ground. But every once in a while, the police show up, and you never know what to expect.

The first time I encountered the police on the subway, it was two men and they were chatting away like they were off duty. But they weren't. It's a way for them to check everyone out - ticket holders are relaxed and non-ticket holders either bolt the car or settle down in their seats nervously hoping the cops will exit at the next station.

They didn't exit. They waited until the car was nearly full and started checking for tickets or bus passes. The young man sitting next to me had neither, and no ID. He was arrested on the spot, meaning handcuffed behind his back, and removed from the train.

So when the police came into my car today, I looked around to see who they might target. But they left as quickly as they came through a connecting car door - kept locked at all times. A former gang-banger sitting across from me and I exchanged raised eyebrows. I told him I didn't think anybody could go through those doors and he said they had a key.

Then he told me how, after getting out of prison, he risked riding the subway without a ticket until his first paycheck came through. That day be bought a pass. That day, the police checked for passes. I told him my experience, mentioned above.

We both got off at the same stop, and on our way out, we saw a man, in handcuffs, being arrested by the police. I turned to him and said, "I shouldn't have opened my mouth." He laughed and said, "better him than me." I had to agree, but thought to myself - too bad it had to be anybody.

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