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Holiday Exposure


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I’m on an IND platform, West 50s, 6:40 am on July 4th. It being a long holiday weekend, most people have left the city, apart from assorted bohemians and the colored underclass. And everything is moving just a little…slow. I have to get to Penn Station by 7 and am beginning to panic that I won’t make it.

I play little mental games: if the train doesn’t come in two minutes, I’ll run upstairs, get some cash, hail a cab. Then another two minutes, and another two.

An old gypsy female gets off a train going in the opposite direction. She has an entourage of about 15 parcels and shopping bags, each one about big enough to hold a pair of shoes or an old towel. She slowly drags them out to the platform and stands there, wandering around a little, shoving them to and fro with her thong-clad feet. She walks around to the stairwell, reaches under her sack dress, adjusts her underclothing, stands with her feet apart, and pees right there. Then she moves down the platform a little bit, away from the puddle now dribbling down into the tracks, and squats a little, still fiddling with her underwear. Then she gingerly takes off her black diaper, or panties, or whatever. Is she going to throw them into the track trench? The rubbish bin? No, she rolls them up a little and deposits them in one of her little plastic bags.

Meanwhile, farther down the platform, a very large negro, or some other nonwhite, is taking his shirt off, and washing his face and hands with water gushing out of some spigot. Or maybe he’s pouring water on himself from a bottle. I can’t tell; he’s an eighth of a mile away from me. At some point he sees me standing there, watching for the train. He pulls down his pants and waves his lunchmeat at me. I can’t see anything clearly; he’s far away and in shadow. Obviously, though, Big Nig is hoping for a reaction. He keeps this up for a good five minutes.

A few more people enter the subway station. At long last the train arrives.

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