Street Smarts Series: Give me your water bottle cap

Some years ago I was riding the train into Harlem. Back in those days I always carried a gallon of water with me, and one day, while taking the 3 train to the last stop, some young men took an interest in my gallon.

There were about 3 youths on the train with me. One of them had a crap ton of water bottle caps he was playing with, and he continued to look in my direction. Mind you, back then I was pretty buffed, and I didn’t look like someone you could easily mess with.

This was one of the reasons that I really thought about my response to what came next. The kid with the caps said “Give me your water bottle cap for skelly.” I looked at him, and said “huh?” He repeated himself, “That water bottle cap, can I have it, for a game.”

I assessed the situation, these were 2 or 3 young men. They were significantly smaller than me, and easily destroyed by someone of my size. Or so one would think. This got me to thinking, in order for this kid to so brazenly ask for my water bottle cap, he must be prepared to handle this situation should it go bad.

I made what I believe to be the intelligent decision, popped the cap, and threw it over. “That’s a crazy collection you are going to have man, enjoy!” Then I took a swig of water from my gallon. The kid nodded at me, and when the last stop arrived, we all went on our merry ways.

Think about it, being street smart isn’t just about knowing when to cross a street, or being careful taking the corner, it’s about making intelligent, street wise decisions when caught in a situation that could go really bad.

The logic is sound, if he’s stepping to me, he’s ready to back it up. Remember, young people don’t really have an understanding of consequence. They don’t have as much to lose as those of us who have lived it. If all it takes to avoid an issue, is to part with a cheap water cap, then say goodbye to the water cap.

If I took a different path, and this thing escalated, even in the best case scenario where I come out on top of a physical altercation, imagine what the news story would read?

Grown ass man beat up two little Angels on the 3 train.

Nah, I don’t think so, I ain’t going down like that. As long as I can avoid an issue, I’ll take the path of least resistance. Even if that hurts my ego, or makes me look like a pussy to most of you. That is the sign of true street smarts, and you’d be wise to follow my footsteps!



Note the date on a post as it may be an old point of view. If you learn that your views are wrong, yet they remain the same, then you are a fool.

The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.