Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You talking to me?

"Good Morning!"

Those two innocuous words threw me for a loop this morning. They came from a man sitting adjacent to me on the subway as I rode in on my way to work.

In the three seconds it took for my bajan manners to kick in and respond likewise about 20 thoughts ran through my head.

Wait I kno he?

He cud be talking to me?

Wha um is he want now? I aint got nuh money ta give a fella! I aint care wha kinda sob story he got fa me.

Wait he is ona dem cult fellas dat gine try to start confusing me bout visiting he church? Cause fa right now I aint looking to follow nuh cults. Next ting I know dem tekkin all my salary an de Pastor tief off my wife to be he concubine an leff me by my one self. Actually wait that cud be a good ting, lemma hear wha he got to say an if de pastor lookin fa concubines.

He head bad? he aint look like he escape from Queen Street but still ya can neva tell dese days, he head cud be bad.

Wait was I was talkin to myself agin and he thought I was talking to he? I gotta stop talking and singing ta myself cause dis ting like it duz only attract mad people ya!

Chupse what um is bout me dat mek it look like I interested in conversation dis blessed morning. He cann see I got a newpaper an headphones on specifically cause I aint looking to listen or talk or hear from nuhbody this marning. chupse!

Wha I been in this country umpteen years and nuhbody neva say good morning ta me pun the train. He cann be Canadian!

Naa he want money I kno he want money, cud only be cause that is the only time a complete stranger will say morning to ya on the Train. yea dat is it.

And on and on it went in my head even after I had responded to his greeting and sat down and started reading the newspaper. I was wary. You would have thought the man had threatened me with a knife or something instead of offering me words of greeting.

As the trip started I kept glancing up, surreptitiously trying to take the measure of the man. He still looked sane, was dressed ok; plaid shirt, jeans, sneakers looked like a computer dude so maybe he didnt want my money and no he didnt try to say anything else to me for the duration of the trip so that ruled out the whole cult thing.

Strange indeed. He said Good morning to a stranger. My mind trys to wrap itself around that unfathomable concept. He didnt stare, he didnt push, he didnt plop himself down next to me almost crushing my leg, he didnt give me a wha you looking at mind ya business look, he didnt give me the unless thats the only seat left in this whole train I aint sitting next to you look. Instead he said good morning.

Whoa! Head rush!

Whats that all about? Doesn't he know that in the subway we try to interact as little as possible with our fellow man? Its bad enough we're stuck on this damn infernal, prone to random break downs, vehicle some for 1/2 hr or more or that we might inadvertently have our space violated, get crushed or accidentally brush against another person we didnt want to touch. Like the white woman who kicked me last week and gave me what I can only interpret as a 'dont touch me you dirty n****' look when my foot accidentally touched hers as I moved to let someone pass. And yes I had said sorry. Dry up ol hag! Ya feel I wanta play footsies wid de likes a you. Chupse!

Willingly inviting contact with a stranger? On the subway? You mad or drunk boy? No sar. What gives?

I mean as an aside funny thing about it is that we attempt to be islands in this sea of people. Independent, not interacting, ignoring, pretending to sleep, pretending to read, staring into space, trying not to let our eyes linger too long on one spot or person, listening to our music to drown out the others but yet a lot of these folk acting as islands will pull out that cell phone and have a totally and might I say loud as what not, what should be private conversation in the midst of a complete bunch of strangers. I still haven't figured that one out yet though. Trying to be innocuous, blend in, not gain attention, no touch anyone yet have the most personal of conversations in a crowded train? Hmmm. Must be a they are strangers so who cares if they hear what I'm saying they don't know me thing. Guess that can work in a big city but I may never really figure that one out.

Anyway I kept my eye on dude until he got off at Woodbine. In the end I just figured although he showed no other outwards signs of being a stranger to the city he definitely wasn't from around these parts. yep thats it, he's definitely a newbie. He couldn't be Torontonian.

Unless he mad.

Damn I still wish he was from the cult and had come to take my wife off as a concubine. Way to get a brothers hopes up. Chupse!


bakannal said...

lol. fortunately those manners haven't completely disappered over here. its getting there tho. every time i enter a bus i say good morning and when no one replies i say loudly "i guess it ain't." sometimes it works.


The psychology of insularity,apprehension and suspicion juxtaposed with the paradoxical question of etiquette,social grace and manners in metropolitan society.Very interesting piece!CHUPSE!!

Radmila said...

When I walk along the pathway from the parking lot to the school, the people walking through always, always say good morning when eye contact is made.


This is in Toronto

Abeni said...

You sooo suspicious, I say you should be in the FBI:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I bet you any bet that man is a Guyanese, bet you. Well, alright, he's from the Caribbean.

Bakannal, you does say that for true? hahaha. I gon start doing that too. I can't wait to hear what people say.

You can proper write though, Jdid. You should send this in to one o' them local papers, let them pay you for it! You might have to edit the concubine part though, I don't think your wife gon like it, she might bop you one, konks in your eye.

Crankyputz said...

Ohhh wifey is going to kick ur behind for that one....

Cynical much,

You should come to my neighbourhood, everyone says hi...

Empath said...

I'd do a double take too if that happened to me on any London tube. LOL.

Leon said...

Wow. The manners over there must be terrible if those two words threw you for such a loop!

Ann (MobayDP) said...

LOL. You suspicious fi true man!

Bwoy, no matter where in the world I go I always say good morning/afternoon/evening when I enter a bus, elevator, room or pass someone in a hallway. So you probably would think I mad too! :-)

Funny enough, I think I learned to do this in Barbados a couple of years ago when school children would pass by and tell me "Good afternoon".

Shotta M said...

Good to get some insight into the intricacies of the subway system. In little Milwaukee there are no subways.

inciquay said...

Toronto screwface at it's finest! I love to take early morning walks through Little Italy and when the store owners sweeping their patios say hi, I always get suspicious ( I can't help it!) before I reply back... Then I giggle to myself at my assimilation into Toronto's screwface ways. Esteban Agosto Reid sums it up nicely! So funny cuz it's true ;-)

dalia said...

you need a hot lash. hoping somebody coming to tek wifey away!

these days, i usually smile or nod a hello. i only utter a good morning if i get one, first. i'm trying to be more friendly. and these days if i'm out that early in the morning, it's a good thing, 'cause it means i'm working, so i'm happy! lol

stop bein' so damn cynical. and if you were home in bim, if you didn't say good morning, people would talk behind your back and suh yuh ain' got nuh damn manners!

Luke Cage said...

U know what bro? In the Virginia/DC/Maryland area it's pretty much a given. A nice gesture can get you one in return. A good morning can get an equally if not more rewarding reaction in turn as well. I'll tell you what the problem is.

I can't turn that shyt off when I go to NYC and man, it can be kind of an eye opener. Folks looking at me like, "what's so good about it?" - "what bro, you know me?" It's not what they say, but the look they give you.

An earlier poster mentioned something about eye contact and the response that comes from that. I totally agree J.

Natalie said...

that's funny and so so real in this madness called 'Merica. I get questioning looks all the time from the bus drivers (not the ones who look at me like I just farted out of my mouth - they just don't know what to do), passengers and clerks alike -- that "you ain't from around here, are ya?" kind of look that amuses more than annoys me. Last week, a taxi driver in NY almost pissed on himself when I greeted him, and was not mad that he didn't know where he was going. Hell, I didn't know where I was going. He couldn't stop saying how much he appreciated it. Basic manners does frighten people so eeh? Even we who was brought up to know better start thinking and acting different once we live in this place for a while. Steuupppsss!