Here’s a spoonful of something, though I’m not quite sure what category it falls under!
Oblivious to my surroundings, I was paging through my notes on the Subway this afternoon, wishing it was already 24 hours later so I could be done with my finals. All of a sudden, I heard a cacophony of yelps and shrieks ripple down the car, and I looked up sharply. People were lifting their legs and making a ruckus, and it was a few seconds before I could decipher the cause. But the cause soon revealed itself to me as a mottled little rat scurried down the center aisle, clearly confused and hastily contemplating his misfortune. I’ll admit, I yelped a little too and lifted my own legs as the rat scuttled back down the other way again, passing me with mere inches. As the situation escalated, with more and more passengers involved, an off-the-job construction worker picked up one of his tools (a level, I believe), and with catlike reflexes, squashed the little creature. Suddenly, the poor soul looked pathetic, and I was sad. We take a life because we are temporarily afraid? It’s not exactly like smushing an ant, although I know there would be some who disagree with that too. But I momentarily forgot my concerns in favor of a moment of human connection. Everyone was looking around at each other, commenting, making eye contact! Suddenly we weren’t strangers in our own orange and yellow seat bubbles, brushing elbows but never exchanging a word. We had a connection, making us a temporary community. Lots of smiles and comments ensued. An older African-American man (a little rough around the edges, with clothes that have seen better days) who I would never normally connect with, looked at me and said, “Were you scared?” I thought about it and said, “I guess, a little bit. But now I feel a little sad.” He nodded, understanding, then said with wide eyes, “Well, I was scaaaared!” We smiled at each other, but then the spell was broken as the train pulled to a stop; my stop.
The rat and I both got off at the same stop (one with a little more dignity than the other, I have to say). As I exited the train I could swear, but can’t be totally certain, that I heard one of the male passengers comment slyly, “Look, the little kitten’s getting off at the same stop as the rat.”
Oh, New York. What a character you are.