Home » Poetry » MISSED DIRECTIONS (based on a true story)

MISSED DIRECTIONS (based on a true story)


He approached the El train extending his arms

as if preparing to dive head first

Into the rough waters of the second city’s rush hour.

His cocoa-brown fingertips parted the closing doors

As he poked his head into the train car and asked,

“Is this where I catch the Brown line?”

His request for directions was directed at a white man

Who had just transferred onto this train

After a 45-minute ride from suburbia.

The suburbanite clutched his backpack, averted eye contact,

And ignored the diver’s question.

As the conductor attempted to close the doors, again.

In a public transportation moment that lasted an “eternity”

The diver parted the closing doors,

Pokes his head further into the train car,

Clears his throat, and for the second time,

Asks the silent man for directions.

Realizing that even if he knew the answer,

The suburbanite had no intentions of responding to the man,

I spoke up and answered his question,

“The Brown line is on the other platform.”

Pointing my finger literally to other side of the tracks.

The suburbanite silently breathed a sigh of relief,

while the swimmer completely ignored my assistance.

“Excuse me miss, is this where I catch the Brown line?”

He repeated his question to a young blonde woman

Directly across from me trying to melt into her seat.

She didn’t answer either.

I almost got irritated by his dismissal of my help,

And then I realized… he was missing the brown line train

That was rolling into the station on the other the tracks.

I guess he wouldn’t get to his destination as quickly as he planned.

Oh, well… I had tried to help the brother out.

But, he was beyond any help I could provide.

I was the only person on that train that had even acknowledged him.

I was the only person on that train that had answered his question-

And I had given him the right directions.

Unfortunately for the diver was looking for the white directions.

“Shit, it’s on the other side!” he barked as he saw the other train.

He angrily pulled the red handle that opened the closed doors

This caused the entire train that had begun leaving the station to lurch to a stop.

“Damn, y’all could’ve said something. Now I done missed my train!”

He glared at the suburbanite and the blonde girl and exited the El car.

Both of them slightly bowed their heads to avoid his heated gaze.

I smiled to myself because I knew his “y’all” didn’t include me.


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