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- Growing Up Bronx
The NYC Subway system, thousands upon thousands of commuters right it every single day. In a large congested metropolis like NYC, mass transportation is the most convenient, fastest method to get around. Even New Yorkers that own a car ride a bus or train during the week to most places. Due to the lack of parking and high costs, tolls, coupled with insane traffic, most people simply cannot and will not drive during the work week. Especially into “the city”, Manhattan.
That being said, there are unwritten rules about the subway, subway riding is a subculture all its own my friends. For instance, as I am writing this post I sense someone looking at me. I raise my eyes and see a gay young man, he looks into my eyes and gives me a soft smile. I nod at him and go back to my writing. Moments later he’s staring into a mirror, applying some makeup, and touching up his face. He looks at me once again, smiles and then gets off the train.
It may not seem like much to you, but many things happened there for that small exchange to take place. For instance, this young gay guy had to have sensed no threat from me, somehow he sensed that I am accepting and I pose no immediate threat to him or his lifestyle. He determined it is safe to smile at me, or even make eye contact. Based on a silent energy exchange he knew that I was not going to react in a bad way.
Allow me to quote an old friend on how he’d react to this similar scenario:
Nah son, you let them n*ggas smile at you? Psst, if some gay @ss n*gga smiled at me and sh*t, I’d flip out and beat the f*cking sh*t out of that b*tch @ss n*gga, not only for being a f*cking f*ggot, but for having the nerve to be f*cking smiling at me like I’m a f*cking f*ggot too and sh*t. You feel me A? Do I look like a motherf*cker that you can be smiling at and sh*t. F*ck that n*gga A, what the f*ck, you be letting n*ggas disrespect you in the streets A, you my boy, and I know you ain’t soft, but that’s why n*ggas in the hood think you p*ssy A. You need to man the f*ck up and claim your respect. Feel me?
As I quote my old friend here, I think to myself the reply I provided to him during that conversation.
No sir, I don’t feel you. I disagree. In fact I take it as a compliment when a gay male, or a female, or anyone compliments me.
Soon there after my own train stop came. I got off and walked down to the Delancey F train stop. I noticed 3 young men. They were dressed in sagging jeans, they had on hats and hoodies, they wore them low so that there faces were mostly concealed. They were strategically located in what I perceived as a perfect formation for an ambush. One on the left, one on the right, and one directly in front of the walking path, yet hidden by a large column.
A person with no street smarts would not even realize that they were together, they could very well have been separate. However I see the silent communication, I see the looks exchanged as people pass by the location they have flanked. At some point I notice one of them pass something to another. These observations are all happening within seconds, I noticed them from the moment I exited the connecting stairwell and I saw all this from a distance. Had it not been rush hour, I would have not gone in their direction and stayed further away, however, criminals are less likely to take action during busy rush hours, especially young punks.
Once I get close and its my turn to pass, I make myself large, chest up, head erect, I discretely make sure that all 3 of them know that I see them. I turn my body to avoid any physical contact, I say “pardon me fellas”, and I casually tilt my head towards the hidden guy. I do this discretely, to avoid eye contact and the potential “what the f*ck you looking at”, but obvious enough to silently say “I see you there, and I have perceived your potential threat, find another target”.
Now is this wrong of me? To judge these guys and mentally prepare for a potential attack? I grew up in the streets of the Bronx, I can’t tell you how many times I saw that exact set up. The words that echo in my head as I think of those days and that setup scenario go like this:
Damn, that herb got jumped on the corner, they took his kicks. I can’t believe that fool ain’t see that coming a mile away.
Some instincts stick. Many times simply being aware saved me from being that guy who had his kicks taken. Be it that I managed to run away, or I avoided it via some other method, yet other times they outsmarted me and caught me. I lost hats, wallets, money, bus passes, gold caps, watches, jackets, headphones and blood. I even had my hair set on fire once. NYC is a jungle, anybody that has grown up here knows that you have to be aware to not become a victim. Maybe those guys weren’t planning anything, maybe they were just chilling waiting for the train. But I’d rather go through my wolf rituals and establish that I will not be an easy victim and be wrong about their intentions, than to have to use more decisive action in handling a situation that my wolf rituals could have avoided.
I can’t emphasize enough how survival is hugely dependent on just being aware, and more importantly making the would be perpetrator know that you are aware. Believe me, a criminal would rather target the person with their head in the clouds that will not fight back, the one with no clue as to what’s coming, they are easier and more appealing targets for criminals. Be a wolf, aware and ready to strike!
Unfortunately these scenarios above imply that I did some profiling based on clothing and overall vibe. Fortunately nothing happened and I was either wrong, or they caught what I was sending out. But if you are a lone wolf, and you see a pack of wolves, best to err on the side of caution. I don’t care if it’s a white, black, brown, yellow, green or purple wolf pack, the lone wolf can become a victim, so be aware. This is how I roll, you have a problem with that? Then go to the South Bronx and discuss it with the streets that made me this way.
Growing Up Bronx