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Oh, Elizabeth

Date: 2/1/2008

“Watch the Umbrella” “Oh, I’m so sorry.” “Hey, it’s okay, at least I give you a warning. It could have been a lot different…yep…you could have cops asking, “what’s your name?” as they strap handcuffs around you because you hit some fragile old lady and pushed her to her death on the tracks.” Excuse me! Now let me rewind. This morning was your average “mediocre” day. I drug myself out of bed (stayed up way too late watching the “Dream Ticket”), washed up, pulled my hair back, threw a quick pin in my bun, and had a hot cup of tea (which was not enough caffeine for my day). To make things worse, I rushed out the door, feeling unsure about my turbo shirt change. Mike dropped me off, and I taught. Other than the fact that my advisory girls and I had a “fabulous” pink party (…simply because we are fabulous), everything about the day was mediocre and long. At the end of the day, all I could do was make a parent phone call and rush out of there. The only things I left with was a bunch of work and a stress bump (AKA a huge pink pimple taking up the whole right side of my face). This is the stress bump my students happened to talk about: “Ms. Steel, what is that on your face?” I ignore. “It’s called a Mosquito bite,” quietly to themselves… “Well, it’s taking up her head.” Finally, unable to avoid the temptation, “don’t let me start talking about what some of y’all look like up in here.” Silence. So anyhow, everything about today was absolutely “WHATEVER.” All I could do was get excited about my walk home. I walk two miles home every day (rain, shine, snow, whatever), and I love it!!! It is one of my favorite times, whether I am accompanied by a talking friend on the phone, my i-pod, a steaming cup of coffee, an orange juice or just the thoughts in my head, I love my walk home. So as I said, bye to May, I silently waited for the train. Because I was slightly out of it, I began swinging my umbrella, trying to make pretty patterns with the water still dripping off of it. Until I heard: “Watch the Umbrella.” This was coming from a short, round Hispanic woman with all black on, except for the tracing of a white collared shirt. She wore a black tie, black fleece, and black eye makeup. When I say black eye makeup, I mean it looked as if she took charcoal and spread it on thick from her eyelashes to the crease of her eye, although it was smudged all around her eyebrow and nose. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said. “Hey, it’s okay, at least I give you a warning. It could have been a lot different…yep…you could have cops asking, “what’s your name?” as they strap handcuffs around you because you hit some fragile old lady and pushed her to her death on the tracks.” “Yeah, they are fragile,” I said as I turned my head the other way, thinking that this was her cue to leave, but no, she stayed. “Yeah, but you know what, I hate the train and the people in it. They make me sick. They all look sick, mad, miserable…” As she spoke, I watched as she unintentionally walked really close to the edge of the train. I definitely jumped her way a few times to stop her from moving backward so fast, but I stopped my self each time. I didn’t know her intention to talk to me yet. Did she want to push me on the tracks, rob me, what was her deal… Yeah, I was fresh just like you when I first moved here…that was ten years ago…but they just try to put their negativity on you…” I think I can take her. Heck, I could hit her with my umbrella. Would I go to jail if she fell on the tracks? I hope not, it would totally be in self-defense. Maybe I should just walk away. “You know New Yorkers, they don’t even want to have conversations with you! They would have just walked away from me right now.” Okay, so I will stay. She must be lonely. I need to calm down. “I tried to meet someone down here once, but he had so many the f---in’ problems, he was just like the people on the damn train…look at her,” she said, pointing at a big frowning black woman, who looked like she had a long day and would kick both of our butts at the same time for just looking at her. So I quickly turned back around as the lady continued to talk to me. “And this guy,” she now points to an Asian man, who was minding his own business, now he looks frightened by her pointing and mean looks. “He thinks he is f----n’ 21,” she says as she looks at him disgusted. “Never look any of them in the eyes, they’ll try to dump it all on you and in you.” As the third Manhattan train comes, I get a bit frustrated because by now, my train hasn’t come, and I am currently listening to her tell me her Starbucks design-your-own mug pattern. “Yeah, the red and glitter, sounds great.” “Well, doll, what is your name?” “Shelby,” I say quietly. (I have never been able to lie really quickly, and I was caught off guard) “JOEY…” “No, Shelby.” (yes, I know, I am an idiot for giving her my name the second time.) “Well, Shelby, you're an angel," she says as she begins to run after the train. As she turns towards the train, I check my belongings. Wallet- check…Phone- check…I-Pod…check. “What’s your name?” “Elizabeth.” I smile and turn around. “Hey, Shelby.” I turn towards the train. “Remember everything that I told you.” “Okay, Elizabeth, I will.”


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