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February 1, 2006

More Observations on the El

But first, a small-world coincidence
on the El:  as I was waiting at the 46th Street station on my way
to work this morning (to my second job), Kossi, a FISH friend from high
school, came up behind me saying, “Cori Thatcher.  How are
you?”  It was so awesome to see a long-ago friend in the big city.

So on to my observations from my trip home.  They start before I
actually got on the El–actually, the don’t involve the El at all but
rather the part of my journey that preceded the El (my trip home really
is a journey:  it spans three forms of transportation and at least
an hour).  My first observation came during my long wait for the
bus, which seems to be passing at longer and longer intervals these
days.  To occupy my mind, I began scrutinizing the drivers and
passengers of the rush-hour traffic passing by.  Within the span
of minutes, I saw white and black drivers, Muslim and Asian drivers,
women and men, and young and old.  The Northeast is certainly a
diverse place–not at all like the highly segregated neighborhoods that
characterize the rest of the city, save for the areas immediately
surrounding Penn and Drexel, where students from all across the country
and the world make their temporary homes.

My second observation came on the way to the El platform after the #58
dropped me off at the Frankford Transportation Center.  As I
proceeded toward the escalator (I’d normally take the adjacent stairs,
but my knee’s been bothering me), I met with two young black men who
were equi-distant from the base of the moving stairs.  The young
men, dressed, as some might describe, like hoodlums with their baggy
pants and sweaters and oversized hoods draped over their heads, both
paused and extended their arms toward the escalator, offering,
politely, for me to “go ahead.”  How pleasant it is when
stereotypes are broken.  I smiled all the way up to the El. 
My smile only faded when I opened my issue of Mother Jones Magazine
to an article on the awful terrorist situation in Pakistan, stemming in
part from the U.S. and Soviet intervention in the region in the 1970s
and ’80s; but that’s a different story…


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