Judgments, lessons on NY subway

Mark it off my bucket list.

I sat, slept and stood on the New York City subway – a reflection of the city’s fast-paced lifestyle – for both short and long periods of time during my four-day stay in the “City That Never Sleeps,” looking at the long and dreary faces of many fellow passengers.

Different languages floated on the air: Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese.

Not understanding what was being said, I wondered if I might be the subject of conversation.

Non-verbal cues gave away signs of the emotions and feelings of my fellow passengers.

Such was the case with a full-bearded African American man sitting across from me, who was giving me what felt like the stare of death.

Although I hadn’t said or done anything to him, he glared unhappily in my direction. His jean bottoms were frayed and his blue shirt wrinkled. I read despair and hopelessness on his face.

Tired and all, I managed to experience other individuals, who flashed different expressions my way.

Another African American man dressed in a high-priced beige suit and a dark colored top hat kept glancing over as he read from a hardcover novel.

Sitting close to the subway door, he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the work – a title not known to me.

Stroking his goatee, he grinned as he read. 

Another time, I sat alongside an Italian-speaking couple and their two young children. 

The mom was trying to figure out her whereabouts on a map of the city, as she spoke in her native tongue.

Her children and husband looked on, laughing at times in a playful fashion as she struggled to properly identify her surroundings.

Laughter filled the air in a space consumed by dullness and an overall lack of energy.

After a long day of walking and sight-seeing historic areas, such as the 9/11 Memorial, this bright moment put a smile on my face.

It reinforced the importance of sometimes taking a step back – or a seat on the NYC subway – in order to reflect on the intricacies – unrelated to ethnic backgrounds and places of residence – that make each one of the Earth’s inhabitants unique.

I’m not talking about the height or weight of the person, but instead the emotions and feelings that make the person human.

Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I do notice when someone is extremely tall or short, which sticks out to me as much as it does to anyone else.

I, for one, am going to surely notice when I see a fellow little person walking around on campus or in Berkley, Mich., where I’ve resided since the beginning of the 2013 fall semester.

And I’m also going to notice when a person as much as two feet taller is in the same vicinity – as was the case inside a Brooklyn bar that resembled The Majestic Theatre on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, on my last night in NYC.

It’s when I met a seven-foot Caucasian male, who was nearly twice my size.

His slicked-back hair and pink, button-down shirt made all the girls stop in their tracks and made me feel even more diminutive, especially standing next to him. 

However, at the end of the day, do any of us want to really be known as simply that really short or tall guy?

More than likely, no.

And it’s because what ultimately defines an individual is not his or her height, weight or appearance.

Instead, it’s a person’s mind and emotions, and how much care they display for others in utilizing both.

And, yes, while we’re not going to always use the two in the best fashion possible, simply because we’re human and susceptible to making mistakes as a result of it, we can improve upon our actions through time and effort.

It’s something that all of Earth’s people can work on, no matter age, profession, skin color, size or mental and physical deficiencies. 

It leads to my next point, which is that the subway can easily be a judgment zone with all the different characters – people of various personality and physical traits – present on a given ride in or to one of the five boroughs of NYC.

Individuals can become more socially cognizant of what makes them and others happier, more wholesome human beings.

It’s something I’d like to see happen in my lifetime.

Chirco is VN sports editor