by David Alfredo Paulino
The MTA system… the public transportation system in NYC that causes the most stress, eye rolls, and deep sighs. It is what frustrates the citizens of NYC to no end. This is not a piece on my frustrations of the MTA but rather it is one of the places where humanity is reflected the most. Possibly because it is the place where so many different types of people are forced to interact, it disrupts what they are already used to daily. The ugly part of humanity can be seen both frequently and rarely. Frequently in the sense of homelessness, and rarely in the sense of fights. It is a daily reoccurrence seeing and hearing somebody tell their story about their situation and asking fellow passengers for change. It can be someone new or it can be the one that always frequents that specific train at that specific time.
It is always interesting to see how people react when it comes to the homeless. The most common reaction is the eye roll continued by a deep sigh. The next would be of those that are sitting, they would just casually close their eyes to make it seem as if they cannot see them, then they do not have to feel as bad when they ignore it and not have to give their change. The last reaction is the least common one, it is when they give. It varies from person to person the most obvious one is money, then it is food, and lastly clothes, shoes, etc.
The fights are ugly because everyone on the train gets involved once an altercation happens. The altercation is usually brought on by one person bumping another, stepping another’s expensive shoes it is ludicrous but, in my eyes, it is a reflection of how quick violence can happen and how quickly it spreads.
My favorite aspect of the MTA is the unexpected but frequent interactions that I myself experience and most of the time observe. My interactions are usually brought upon by books and it is depending on what it is that I’m reading. Self help books like Siddhartha, the Greatest Miracle in the world, and almost all of Paulo Coelho’s books tend to create a conversation. Usually those conversations are beautiful because it allows both parties to be more honest about their lives. The conversation usually consists of me and the person just speaking about each other’s dreams, goals, and mistakes that we have made in our lives and what did those mistakes teach us.
There were various instances when I saw a person just break down kneeling down by the floor, moments later a lady comes and kneels next to him, consoles him and cries with him. It was rather beautiful, it reminded me of how caring and empathetic people from the city can be.
The MTA can be frustrating, but it can offer elegant conversations, breathtaking performances from hip hop, opera, to classical music. It showed me how much of an adventure it can be, and each experience will be different depending on which train one gets on. The MTA is world of its own that reflects different facets of humanity.
My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here, most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year. Due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.