THE FUTURE IS THE INTERNET: a true subway story

You know how certain kinds of films, television shows and stage plays will present a pandering, romanticized view of a homeless person, showing a rattily-dressed but wise old man whose simple words put middle-class problems into perspective.

As much as I love the The Clash’s lyirc about how “the truth is only known by guttersnipes” I’d never had one of these magical encounters.

Until today.

I transferred onto the E-train at Canal Street and I was immediately bowled over by the stench of cheap whiskey at 9:55 in the morning.  I looked up and saw a shabbily-dressed middle-aged man with dreadlocks, drinking brown liquor from a Poland Spring bottle.

Guy: What you reading?


Guy: What’s that about?

Me: How our culture is obsessed with its own past.

Guy: Like China and Kung-Fu movies.

Me: I haven’t gotten to that part yet.

Guy: (smiling) Maybe it won’t be in the book.  But China makes a lot of Kung-Fu movies.  Kung-Fu is very important to China’s history.  It was the Kung-Fu masters that freed China. 

He went on about Kung Fu for a few minutes.  I was standing about 6 inches away from him, but everyone else kept their distance. Still, I got the impression they were watching/listening to this conversation.  It’s the closest I’ve come to having a true Socratic Dialogue.  I wish the train ride would last longer, because this was really getting good.

Guy: (more about how Kung-Fu saved China)

ME: I didn’t know that.

GUY: Kung Fu is very important.

Me: Mmm.

The train pulled into the next stop and the doors opened at Spring Street, where I exited.

Me: (to my new friend) Take it easy.

Just before I left the guy looked at me, pointed and shouted one last thing.  He was dead serious, but also joking.  


I exited the train, and then came up with a good response after it was too late.

“That’s the one thing Kug-Fu can’t save us from.”


Susie said...

That is awesome.

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