Saturday, February 03, 2007

Heartbreak on the Red Line

While taking the red line to pick up my car at the tow lot (yea, I'll get to that in a moment), I was witness to a sight that just broke my heart and fired up my outrage. While zoning out to the gentle rocking of the subway, I noticed a family that had gotten onto my car at the last stop. It was a mother, father, little girl about 7 and a pre-teen boy around 11. The parents were so drunk that they could barely walk, and as soon as they sat down, they passed out. And let me tell you, it was not a pretty passed out. They were slumped over, slack jawed drooling, clothes disheveled, stinky passed out. The little girl was chattering constantly to either one of her parents as she sat between the two. Or should I say chattering at. It was as if she believed that if she talked enough, she could rouse them. It was bordering on hysteria. The boy was angry. And I mean, angry at everything, it oozed from his pores and was actually tangible in the air. He sat across from the rest of his family and every once in awhile told his sister to shut up. I took this in and could barely contain myself. The next stop was mine, so I got up and walked over to the exit door near the boy. It was all I could do not to recoil at the rage that he was giving off. I looked down at him, and he looked up at me with eyes that could kill, daring me to make a comment. My heart broke. I very quietly said "Are you ok? How can I help?" The rage wavered for an instant, and I thought he was going to cry, but then the walls came up and he told me to "Mind my own fucking business." We were rolling into the station, and I tried to hold his gaze, but he would not look back at me. I said to him "I can't do that. I'll get someone to help you." He turned his back to me and I stepped off the train and went up to the conductor's window and told him what was going on and that I feared for the safety of the children, and please contact the police and child services. The conductor thanked me, asked me which car they were in, and took my name and number in case the police wanted to talk to me.
As the train pulled away and I watched the cars disappear into the tunnel, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Now I have had an emotional week, I am sure that has contributed to my emotional reaction to this, but I felt as though I should have done something more. What? I don't know. But something. Anything. As I blinked back the tears, I noticed a transit worker standing to my side, he had heard the whole exchange. I asked him what I should have done and he said exactly what I did. The conductor would radio ahead to transit police at the next stop and they would check out the situation and decide if they kids needed help or not. He walked me upstairs and I said I could not believe what I saw, that people would treat their kids so offhandedly and with no thought towards the children's safety or well being. He gave a gruff sort of laugh and said "When you've done this job for as long as I have, nothing surprises you." He then told me about parents who were so drugged out they left their newborn in the train, parents so drunk they threw up all over the train and their kids would scramble to clean up after them. Quick snippets of stories that turned my stomach.
Why do people have children if they don't actually intend to be parents?!? I am having a hard time understanding this. My emotions are all over the place right now, and I know that my reactions are intensified, however it saddens me to think about those two kids. And I am afraid for that boy, the amount of anger he has can only lead to more pain for him. I did not know what to do, and I am afraid that there is no answer I could have expected other than that which he gave me.
People suck, and it hurts the very fiber of my being sometimes.

So, the tow lot. My car was towed last night and I had to go pick it up this morning. And when I got there, I discovered that it really should not have been towed in the first place, and the lady manning the booth gave me all the information I needed to challenge the fee I had to pay ($105.00 - OUCH!) and get reimbursed by the city. And of course, when I found out my car was towed last night, the first reaction I had was "But my tango shoes are in it!!!"
What a tango geek I've become.....

1 comment:

Mehalia said...

Well written article.