Find a back issue

A Morality Lesson on The DART Red Line

A few evenings ago, after a long day of producing Texas’ best weekly newspapers, I boarded a Red Line train. Sitting directly behind me was an obese blond woman whose phone conversation provided an entertaining ride for her fellow commuters. If you like Jerry Springer, soap operas, and Cops, then you would have wanted to be sitting next to this lady.

First of all, her beau was recently carted off to jail. She told the person on the other end of the phone that her man looked her in the eye as the cops led him out the door and said, “Baby, I left a little money in the dresser for you.” Apparently, this is not the first time my traveling companion’s lover has been behind bars, because she bragged that she has memorized both phone numbers for the Lew Sterrett Justice Center information line.

She wasn’t privy to all the details of her man’s case; because they were not technically married, his lawyer couldn’t tell her everything. Even his mother wasn’t in the loop, as the jailbird neglected to list anyone as his “in case of emergency” contact. But the guy was apparently in contact with lots of people. I’m not exactly sure what “putting money on his book” means, as I’ve never been to jail, nor have any of my loved ones, but I could understand the woman’s displeasure as she said, “I ain’t putting money on his book so he can write letters to no other bitches. Those hos ain’t done nothing for him.”

Still, she was contemplating going to Costco or Walgreens and buying “one of those jumbo, big-ass cards” for her man’s birthday. She laughed as she envisioned him being made fun of by his fellow inmates for receiving such a large card. She just hoped that the guards would deliver it.

Here was the part I found most horrifying: Whereas I was taking the train to Arapaho Center Station, where I would hop in my car and drive a mile to my house, this woman was going to get off at Downtown Plano Station and make two more connections via bus so that she could stay at an aunt’s apartment. It sounded as if it was going to take her three to four hours to traverse a distance that someone with access to a car could cover in about 30 minutes.

So as I sat there judging her, silently reveling in the knowledge that my life was so much better than hers, I was overcome by a sneezing fit. I must have stifled seven or eight of them honkers. When I was finished, the woman offered me a “God bless you.” A few seconds after that, she said “Sir?” and offered me something else – a sealed wet wipe, the kind made available at restaurants that serve ribs, as well as a paper napkin to dry my hands with.

I am such a jerk.

12 comments on “A Morality Lesson on The DART Red Line

  1. Thats why I invested in some nice headphones…. Best. Investment. on DART. ever.

    Some nice ear buds that will double as earplugs should I choose to listen to the radio and it cuts out in the tunnel.

  2. You could have offered to put some money on her man’s book (that is a credit system used in jail to facilitate the purchase of items like snacks, etc. from the canteen). Hopefully he won’t have to catch a chain and will be back with his lady soon.

  3. Hello, Zorro…if he had sealed himself off from the world around him via snug earbuds he would’t have experienced this event and could only share a riveting account of a podcast.

    Tim, if she were named Hazel, had been wearing barbed wire around her bosom, and was joined by a Bible salesman this would have been O’Connor. I’m inclined to think of a mash-up between Junot Diaz and O. Henry.

    I ride DART frequently and it is a unique and refreshing way to leave a sealed environment (the car) and actually interact with locals.

  4. I appreciate your honesty. Whatever her life has become, it may very well have not been of her choosing. The same can be said of you, sir. The redeeming qualities of her simple, thoughtful, and kind gesture shows both character and compassion…albeit, in unknown quantities. You tell the story well. Well enough to be a lesson.

    You chose honesty over snark. I like that.

  5. Each person we meet has a story to tell and a lesson we can learn from each other. This was a great thing about growing up in East Dallas and going to school with all types – it really taught me to have empathy, appreciate my life and to make friends of people you might otherwise have never known. The rich kids from Lakewood rarely turn out to be spoiled brats with a sense of entitlement. The poor kids make friends who can help them and they rarely turn out with a burning sense of injustice – however sometimes they see what others have achieved and try to prove themselves. They have a real chance in life – one that they might not get going to a school where the entire student body is poor.

    As the “42nd Street” lyric goes, “side-by-side, they’re glorified”.

  6. That is why I love public transit. You’re forced to really sit with your fellow (wo)man and sometimes it can be annoying, entertaining, scary, interesting but sometimes it can remind you of your humanity. Thanks for sharing your story.