I was riding the J home today around 7:30 PM. I had music on, headphones in. Flicking through shuffle, unsatisfied. I happened to look up from where I was standing, leaning against a pole near the door, to see a well-dressed man in a suit concernedly frowning at something going on to my left. I turned my head. A youngish guy, somewhere around 20, flat brim ball cap facing forwards; red, black, and white Nikes – only moderately beat up; was leaning down to talk to a seated man, well-worn cap on, leather jacket, Blackberry in hand that had seen better days. I did not remove my headphones. I saw an older woman seated on the opposite side of the train watching the conversation. Her eyebrows raised. I looked back at the well-dressed man. Still watching the conversation to my left with great concern. I turned back. Young guy seemed a bit twitchy. With dirty fingernails, every few seconds he’d scratch his face. I noticed from the way the seated man used his hands, he seemed to be talking with serious tone. I became curious. As I removed my left ear bud, I heard the young guy hurriedly thank the seated man for talking to him, and he reached to shake hands. After the handshake, the young man scurried off. I glanced down at the seated man. He made eye contact with me and shook his head.
“I don’t know what that was about. And I don’t know who he was talking to, if you know what I mean. He was high as shit. You see him scratch his face like that? He is asking folks for money, for help, when as soon as he gets some, he’s gonna go run to his crack dealer. Or whatever. I told him if he really wanted help, I could get him a place to stay, right now, right away, but he don’t want that. He’s gotta want to get better.”
The older woman silently nodded her head in agreement. The well-dressed man dropped his stare and opened his newspaper. I continued to talk to the seated man until his phone rang. And I wished him a good night as I exited the train at my stop.