February 18, 2021

Stuck in the middle


It's a really strange experience, actually living in the projects. Not that I haven’t noticed some things in the past, but today, today I spent a part of the day at my physical home, and in spending time in the middle of it all, I began to see things in a different light. I usually come home after 10PM. Today, at 4PM, I felt like I had a front row seat to the tension that I'm now calling - "Days of Our Lives: Project Style". I've lived in the projects for only 2 months, or over two months, depending on if you're a half empty, half full sort of person, but today was the first day I was actually home at 4PM.

I'm trying to give myself a day of rest. A restish day. Sort of.

So, I waited for the elevator with an older African American woman (AAW) and a Spanish man (SM). This whole building seems to know each other, as if they’re one big community, which in a way is what they are (they even have a neighborhood watch group that patrols the building at least twice a week), and when I tried to let the AAW go ahead of me, she courteously held the elevator door open. Then she waited for the SM to step inside. And after that, she pushed her button and started speaking pleasant Spanish to the other man. As the doors were closing I heard the faint desperation of a man, “hold the door, hold the door.” I want to be a star resident, so I held the door for the voice.

It appears that I pushed some of her buttons too.

So, in walks an Asian man, his wife and their obviously retarded son. The son is sitting in a wheelchair, and he’s got lazy eyes, his tongue hanging out, and the innocent look of a retarded boy. The AAW starts yelling, “I’VE TOLD YOU TO WAIT FOR YOUR OWN ELEVATOR. DON’T BRING HIM IN THE ELEVATOR WITH OTHER PEOPLE.” She spoke to the boys parents (RBP) as if their son wasn’t supposed to ride in the elevator with the “normal” folk. It just got worse. She started complaining about the wheelchair, and how she’ll get stuck when she needs to get out, and screaming out what she perceived to be true stereotypes about Asians. Racist things like that.

It was strange. Really, really uncomfortable, kind of strange.

I hope that boy didn’t understand what she’s saying, although he probably did. When she got out of the elevator, a production in itself, she kept complaining about how she couldn’t move her cart and actually, physically get out of the elevator. AAW shouted at the RBP's. I just wanted to yell back, “Shut up lady, don’t you think these people have enough to deal with already?”

I eventually told the RPB's dad that it would be to their advantage if they’d help her get her cart out of the elevator, and eventually they got the hint about actually lifting her cart over their son’s wheelchair. As soon as the elevator door shimmied shut, and the AAW had left, the RBP's turned to me and said, in both English and Spanish, I guess they were unsure of which I spoke seeing that all white girls like the same, but anyway, they turned to me and said "loco."


The SM was still in the elevator, looking up at the ceiling. They all obviously hated each other, and here I was stuck in the middle of an interestingly tense situation.

In my life I have the ability to get into these places. Like Bucryus, Ohio - one of the strangest towns I've ever lived in.

Now I'm living in New York City, only with a bit of a twist. I'm really enjoying the experience.

I'm reading the Celestine Prophecy. I'm babbling.

I'm in the middle of something. But what?

Posted by jamye at February 18, 2021 09:07 PM