Moments in Public Transportation

Several days after September 11th, I was on the Red Line in Chicago. An overweight man left his car via the emergency exit and entered ours. He walked down the aisles of the train attentively, like he was on patrol.

Two tan men were speaking in a foreign tongue. The overweight man stopped at their seats,

“What do we have here?”, he demanded.

He was dressed in shorts and a huge tee shirt that said “Let Freedom Ring!”; above it, a bald eagle was flying with liberty bells in each talon. He wore an enormous hat that read, “The Price of Freedom is Not Free”, with eagles flying in every direction.

The tan men did not answer. They stared at each other a little puzzled; a little scared.

“I will ask again: what do we have here?”

The two men were visibly Mexican. Tan, bushy mustaches; dressed in Mexican soccer jerseys. They spoke clear, unambiguous Spanish.

“Let’s try it a different way: do I need to be concerned about anything here?”

The Mexicans got up and left.

As they were exiting the train, the American raised his hands, as if to make an announcement: “PASSENGERS, do not panic- I have handled this situation”.

He then walked through to the next car, to continue his patrol.

It was in that moment, that I realized: the rest of the world needs to take note.

America is now alert. We are now vigilant.

And we know nothing about world geography.