Thug life scares the living hell out of me

Today was the scariest day I’ve had in the city. I’ve never felt unsafe in the city or freaked out. Until today.

Around 3:30 I was coming home from the US Open and had been on the train forever. I finally switched from the 7 to the 6 and was in the final stretches of my trip home.

Then, at 68th street I heard a lot of noise. It sounded like a riot. You could hear it before the doors even opened. Then a huge group of teenagers, mostly guys (all of them triple my size) and some girls got on the train. They were screaming at the top of their lungs. They were laughing–but not like normal people. They were like, scream laughing, and stomping their feet so hard that I felt the vibrations under my feet.

At 77th I considered getting off the train. After pulling out of that station, I heard a man’s voice asking these teens to stop disrespecting his kids. They were screaming the N word every other word. And when they weren’t yelling that, they were repeating, over and over “EFFING IDIOT!” But they weren’t censoring themselves. The father that I heard was still asking them to not disrespect him by cussing in his face or cussing in front of his kid and they responded with more cursing. He asked them what they would be thinking about their behavior in 20 years and one guy yelled back that he would have his own kids and be cussing them out. I couldn’t even see the guy through the sea of teenage guys who were cussing him out.

Do you think you’re cool? Do you think swearing in front of kids makes you cool? Do you think calling the father an effing idiot when he asks you to stop makes you cool? Do you think it makes you a badass? It doesn’t. It just makes you an ass. What’s that? Your dumbass friends think you’re cool when you act like that? Well they’re idiots too. Yelling in someone’s face doesn’t make you tough.

I know it sounds like I’m overusing the word “yelling” here, but they literally yelled every word that left their mouths. It was terrifying.

At 86th street they were chanting “HARLEM! HARLEM!” I wasn’t sure how to get off the train b/c they were standing right in front of the door. So when I finally got to 96th street, I stood up and yelled “EXCUSE ME!”

The crowd parted and I walked out–but not before one of the guys kicked me.

I was so pissed and freaked that my personal space had been violated like that–there’s no reason to kick someone just for saying excuse me. If they weren’t acting like a group of animals, I wouldn’t have had to yell–I could have simply asked at a normal volume. But they were and I was a foot shorter than all of these people and there was no way they would have heard a polite “excuse me” over their howling.

Now here’s where I dislike the story–I turned around and yelled “I’ll effing kill you.” Probably not my best choice of words–especially because they yelled “Nah, we’ll kill you bitch.” I wouldn’t have yelled anything at them if they hadn’t touched me, but I was so flipped out by that that I just whipped around and blurted it out. Looking back, I would have kept my mouth shut. I would have gotten off the train at 77th. But then again, I would never have expected this kind of behavior–especially in the middle of the day. Middle of the night, maybe, but not middle of the afternoon.

I turned and walked full speed toward the stairs. I passed an open conductor window and told her that there was a really rowdy crowd a few cars back and it was out of control and getting dangerous. She smiled at me. Smiled like every day people complain that there is dangerous behavior on the trains.

I was shaking when I got out of the subway. I kept checking over my shoulder to make sure no one followed me. And it’s shit like this that makes me want to move. This is the first time in this city that I’ve ever felt unsafe.

I’m not sure what it is that makes guys act like that. The girls were great, sitting on the guys laps, very classy in public (and yes, please note the absolute DRIPPING sarcasm). And of the guys, only a few of them kept their mouths shut. These kids were acting like absolute hoodlums. There’s no need for it. There’s absolutely no need to kick a person.

There is no need to get on a subway and yell and scream and drop F-bombs in front of little kids. There’s no need to stomp your feet on the train and thump around like an animal. Teens act like this and they wonder why adults call them thugs and give them zero responsibility. They’re never going to get respect if they don’t give it. And they’ll never get it because they’ll never learn to stop acting like that.

I hope they do though. Because behavior like this is completely uncalled for. And you know what it is–it’s bull shit. Absolute bull shit.


16 thoughts on “Thug life scares the living hell out of me

  1. Scary! I’m quite impressed that you yelled back at them. You’re right maybe not the smartest thing, but I think it’s good you didn’t take the kick without replying!

  2. The sense of entitlement knows no race, class, ethnic boundaries. Sigh. And then we hear about how they want ‘spect. While we can look at them and say that they are acting like asses, the hoochies sitting on their laps and fawning all over them think it’s cool. Their friends think it’s cool. When they mouth off or kick the wrong (or right person) they won’t think the cap in their ass is cool.

    NOT that I’m advocating violence but sometimes you just have to shake your head because you just know where these kids are going to end up.

  3. Meg: Oh, I know, yelling back = worst idea ever. But by that point, I was so pissed I couldn’t help it. Plus, like, you just don’t kick a woman! Ever! Even if she did yell at you–which she only did b/c you would never have heard her if she was being polite–something you don’t know how to do!

    Dingo: That’s it exactly. It’s so ridiculous. I know that I’m lucky none of them had guns or knives, but at the same time, they’re lucky that I didn’t!

  4. Geez, what’s with the kicking??? That kind of stupid behaviour isn’t just limited to the teens anymore either. It’s crept up to idiots in their 20s and 30s.
    Last weekend I discovered that spitting to show your disrespect has been brought back. How retro and effing disgusting. Everyone just spitting on each other before getting into scrag fights. Classy.

  5. Yeah, I’d say I’d be pretty uncomfortable with that…glad you’re okay. Maybe let’s not provoke aggressive mobs, kay? I don’t want any liveblogging of hospital rooms.

  6. yikes!
    that IS scary shit. it’s instances like this that make me glad i don’t actually live in a BIG city. i mean i live in one of the top murder capitals in the US but i never feel unsafe. probably because i don’t venture into those neighborhoods and rarely come into contact with those people. it’s scary when you’re all in the same places, it’s why i don’t run after 9pm here (well that and i’m SUPER lazy)
    i’m glad you survived. and you should have said “i’ll gut you like a fish you son of a bitch!”

  7. Kez: Oh no! I can’t believe it’s not just teens. I’m slowly losing faith in society.

    Ben: Noted. In all fairness though, it was yell and get out of the train, or not yell, not be heard and end up in Harlem.

    NSJ: Haha I WISH I would have said that! Yeah, it’s definitely a little scary–especially when you know that the kick to the back of the leg was supposed to hit your knee and make you fall–but it’s one incident out of the year I’ve been here so I’m not too worried.

  8. What a bunch of little assholes. I probably would have reacted the same way as you. Chicago can be a little rough in some places and you definitely get kids like that.

    I’m glad your safe though.

  9. Apollo: Trust me, that’s the new plan.

    Matt: Some of my colleagues suggested pepper spray. But the bean bag idea is fun. Paintballs might be nice too.

    Jamie: Total assholes! And thanks! I’m glad too!

  10. I’m so sorry you were kicked. (Sounds crazy to say that.) All summer I’ve been noticing people behaving like it’s early 90s New York.

    And it’s not just teenagers. I see this shit all the time. From all kinds of ages.

    Guys who look like 50 and 60 stand outside my building and spar with each other like some kind of wilderness face-off for breeding rights, yelling at passersby when it suits them.

    And you’re so right to use /yelling/ because that’s all these groups seem to be able to do.

  11. oh man that sucks. that is so disrespectful and ridiculous. i can’t believe that one they would be so rude with children around and then go so far as to kick you. gah. i’m sorry to hear that.

  12. That is terrible! That poor man too- and then for his kids to see them yelling at their dad! They were probably terrified.
    And to KICK you?! Jeez louise. That is just absurd. What a shame.

  13. Large, out of control ego’s are the problem. Ego’s that are protecting them from themselves, that is – young, fearful, inexperienced conciousness.

    The best you can do is use these types of interactions as opportunities to better yourself.

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