I got off the plane in JFK and immediately went into Native New Yorker mode. Now, perhaps I wasn’t fully awake or am in need of “New York” recalibration. As I walked down the E train platform at the Jamaica-Sutphin station pulling my rollie carry-on behind me, a train pulled into the station and hoards of people going to JFK got off. I needed to be near the front of the train when I got off so I was walking to the spot on that platform that mapped to the spot where the exit is on my departure platform. Being near the right exit can shave off a full 30 seconds. New Yorkers treat time like rollover cell phone minutes. Always trying to trim time as if that time can be applied to anything other than tales of how quick you made the trip.
So instead of letting the wave of people leaving the station pass first I opted to roll upstream against the current of purpose driven travelers. They were going to a flight, I had just got off one. No way I could match their intensity or urgency. Still, upstream I went. This was a move best left to someone who had been in New York longer than 5 minutes. It was like going into a game during crunch time without warming up. They’re lathered up and limber. I was stiff and about as alert as a deer in headlights. With people standing waiting for a train and a parade of people exiting that left little room for me to go against the grain, rollie in tow. The shoulder bumps were taken in stride by both sides. That comes with the territory when your city is packed like a can of sardines. Rolling over someone’s foot however is not on the list of acceptable contact. I got greedy and tried to fit into a space too small for me and my luggage. That resulted in me rolling over a guy’s foot. I knew it could get ugly. I apologized profusely and while I tried to make amends, two things happened.
We both noticed that he was wearing nondescript sneakers or to be less diplomatic, rejects (aka bo-bos). I could see in his face the pain from my bag going over his foot turn into relief that he was wearing a pair of sneakers he cared nothing about. He was almost happy that his plan had worked. Like he was saying “I told you so” to the ghost of getting dressed past. His plan had worked. His Jordans had lived to see another day because he opted not to make a fashion statement on the E train. Plus he saw that I saw. I knew his sneakers didn’t carry any prestige. He was left only with the pain to complain about but a half empty carry-on can only hurt but so much.
If you’re going to rollover someone’s foot, it’s best that they be wearing bo-bos. The second thing that happened? He gave me the tourist pass. He could tell I was coming from the airport and may not be versed in the ways. I didn’t set the record straight.
When I merge onto the freeway in Los Angeles, I always yield to a car not as nice as mine. After you my friend in the Chevy Nova. But if a Bentley is vying for the spot I want, I gun it. Never go to war with someone who has nothing to lose or less to lose than you. Does this now make me a war strategist?