"Low Bust"

The title today doesn't refer to a large-chested woman wearing no bra, but rather to a comment I heard this afternoon while waiting for the orange line. As I was walking down the steps to the subway, I saw this black man crawl on his hands and knees under the turnstile. I gestured to the lady in the booth and she came out and said to the guy, You need to pay your fare. You can't do that. He walked out. I went through and said to her, Does that make me a tattletale? She said, No. Unfortunatly, the guy's friend was waiting for him inside of the stop and the guy said, Whoa, that was a low bust. Then he turned to me. "You got a token for my homie?" I said, "Nope." His friend was still on the other side of the wall and he said, "Yo, try it again!" The subway lady came out of her home. The guy exited, but turned to me first and said, "You snitched." I shook my head. He left to join his friend. I felt stupid because why am I so Pollyanna. I'm that girl who tells on people for smoking in the bathroom in junior high. It reminds me of this other time that I told on a couple of black kids in a second hand Army Navy store who were trying to steal a jackknife. One of the kids goes, You could get cut that way, lady. Like, what do I care if this guy got in for free? Not to mention that Shawn just jumped the turnstile about a month ago on the NJ transit. I am challenged regularly in this city to test if my reactions are based on some kind of value system or experiential knowledge or based on racism. Not that I wouldn't have told if the guy had been white, but how I felt after the fact, like I was in danger for having told--like these two guys were going to come back and shoot me for having busted them. And I don't know I would've had the same thought if their color was different (well, yes, I would've because I always take each scenario to its limit--but I don't know if I would've felt as threatened as I did).

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