“Bless me father for I have not been here…it’s been four years since my last visit.”
Saw so many people; Met a few new ones too. That’s the one great thing about life, we have the opportunity every day to meet someone new. Michigan State’s head basketball coach Tom Izzo once said, “Get to know the person next to you that you don’t know.”
Thanks to my main man Joe Lee who handed me the keys to his railroad apartment on 13th street. Joe and I go way back. Used to play ball in the yard and we would also attend Yankee games together.
Soon as I landed Thursday night at LAG airport and stepped off the plane, I could “feel” NYC.
Walking through the airport. I thought to myself, ‘this joint hasn’t changed‘.
After grabbing my luggage I made my way out to catch my ride into the city; the Q72 bus! On my bucket list is having someone in a suit holding a sign with my name on it. How cool would that be?
Standing out on the sidewalk we see taxi’s, cars and busses in rare form.
Cabs racing to pick up passengers curbside and bus drivers leaning on their horns as pedestrians dash across the street.
Drivers of cars double parked waiting to pick someone up.
Big ups to the bus driver of the Q72, he showed me how to insert my metro card that I had purchased for $19.05 just a few minutes earlier at the newsstand. I miss newsstands.
The bus was packed but I was able to snag a seat towards the back.
I looked around the bus and people were on their phones, looking out the window and some were asleep. Not one single conversation taking place.
Communication is a lost art.
A few passengers looked angry. Some tired and some worn out. I, on the other hand was excited to be there. It was a long time in between bus rides. I’m sure the every day hustle has beaten some down. But these people were not defeated. It’s a grind but they persevere. You gotta!
The bus driver was flying on the highway, passing cars left and right. It was fun and exciting. Like I said, “The joint hasn’t changed.”
As I stepped off the bus and onto the dirty sidewalk I made my way to the F-train. The area was electric. You could feel it in the air. Roosevelt-Jackson Heights was rockin’. Not sure If I had ever been in this part of town.
As I walked to the station I was stressing sliding the metro card through the slot because of the people behind me were bum- rushing me. Fear not, it allowed me access. If the machine rejected my swipe, I could just hear the people behind me, “Come on motherfucker!”
I hopped on board the empty Manhattan-bound train and grabbed a seat in the last car. I placed my Northface backpack on the seat next to me, my big suitcase in front of me between my legs. I pulled out my phone and headphones and listened to some jams.
To my surprise we pulled into 21st street/Queensbridge; why was I so surprised? Well it’s only the home of Vern and Vic Fleming, Ron Artest and the rappers Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, Marly Marl and Nas. I totally forgot the F stopped there.
Coaching men’s basketball at St. Peter’s College back in 2005 we had a player, George Jefferson who was also from Queensbridge. Sadly, George passed away at the age of 21.
A few passengers got on the next couple of stops. Coming from work I’m sure. It was nine o’clock. The people looked dazed, some confused and of course, they were tired. Probably on their feet all day. Some up to ten hours.
At Roosevelt Island, the last stop in Queens more people boarded, the train was filling up fast. A few passengers listened to their music and closed drowsy eyes. All the seats were now taken. A tall guy got on, stood in front of me and was listening to music. I removed my backpack from the seat, tapped him and gestured for him to sit.
“Thank you,” he replied.
Now it was time for the train to go under water and enter the city of Manhattan.