When you look at him, what you see is a man who is covered with tattoos. You only see the words thug life imprinted on his ring adorned hand. You watch as he nods off and drops his metro card yet remain silent. You say and do nothing, because you are afraid of him. He looks large and menacing; you don’t want to exchange words or make any form of contact with this man. I can’t say that I blame you, he does have an intimidating presence.
I am looking at this situation through a different lens though. I see a man that is possibly exhausted from a long night of hard work. Perhaps this is a man who is headed into work this early in the morning? Don’t get me wrong here, my momma ain’t raise no fool; if you know what I’m saying. I can perceive danger, and I can spot a threat perhaps more efficiently than any of you that are about to let this man lose his metro card with your silence.
I can’t do that though, we all have a story. I’m about to make this man’s story better by helping him out this morning. Though my instincts are screaming at me not to wake this man up, I ignore them, I ignore the “thug life” ink and go over to tap him on the arm. He is out like a light bulb and not responsive to my gentle taps. So I tap him a few more times a bit more forcefully. This woman looks at me, as if she’s expecting him to jump up and attack me. The thing is that I am fully prepared for this guy to jump up and attempt to punch me in the face. I know what it’s like to be startled awake, so don’t worry, he’s not going to catch me.
Thankfully, he doesn’t jump up with a start, and he eventually responds to my grabbing his arm. He looks up at me, and I said, “My man, you dropped your Metrocard.” He said thank you and grabbed it. I wished him a good day, looked at the woman, and carried on with my morning routine.