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Subway Story – Determined Taurus

I am a Taurus. Bull headed and quite determined. When I want something I work at getting it. My determination knows no bounds. The book I want to see published will come out soon. I will have a lobster tail for dinner even if I have to go and catch the damn lobster myself. And the skirt that I want will be mine. NO MATTER WHAT. No matter the money, the distance or the crazies on the subway train.

There is always a crazy on the train.

One month ago I left the office of the surgeon that repaired my rotator cuff and headed to my favorite clothing store a mere four blocks away. I decided this was a treat for weeks of painful physical therapy. My other excuse was this would be my pre-birthday shopping day. (To be honest, I had three of those, but who’s counting?) It was Taurus karma that sent me there for they were having a great sale. I found a slack suit that was casual enough to wear on the train as well as an orange coat trimmed in brown that I had longed for earlier, but knew to wait. It was now 80% off the original price and was perfect for NYC spring and fall.  Happy birthday to me!! As I checked out I noticed a skirt that interested me, but I probably didn’t need it. Besides, I had stayed within my shopping budget for once and was determined to buy nothing else.

A week later I saw the skirt advertised but worn with a jacket I owned. It created a very attractive fashion statement. It completed my wardrobe. What other excuses could I give myself to run out and buy it? The Taurus in me longed for it. But I didn’t dare get it because, well, did I really need it? Did I need any more clothes? EVER?

Of course not, but I still wanted it. So I decided to wait. I would figure out how to get the skirt the next time I had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. And I would pay for it from the jar where we save quarters.

Roach and I have done very well saving quarters over the years. We deposited over $800 in rolled coins in the bank. You should have heard that man complain about carrying the coins to the bank, even though he took them $400 at a time. “Too damn heavy.”  But that never stopped him from bragging about how smart we were with our loose change. So I decided to check to see how much we had in that so called bank under the bed.

I was surprised to find we had saved $300. That peaked my determination to have the skirt. Of course, there was always the possibility that after a month it wouldn’t be there. But I would have the funds to buy it. I could turn the rolled coins into bills at the bank by the doctors.

I am a Taurus and I had a plan.

On the day of my appointment I rose early, did my shoulder and arm exercises then reached under the side of the bed where my husband loudly snored and pulled out five rolls of quarters. The skirt was only $39.99 but  fifty bucks seemed like a nice round figure for a Taurus to have.

Impatient and excited (as well as determined) I had to wait only two minutes before the train arrived. Although fairly crowded I noticed a man with his suitcase in the seat next to him. He was half asleep and no one had requested he move his luggage. I’m a Taurus and I wanted a seat. The universe gave me this opportunity so I took it.

“Excuse me, sir,” he didn’t look up so I pinky nudged him.

“’Scuse me. Could you move your suitcase?”

He had on a dark blue jacket, the hood over his bearded face. He sort of looked up at me but didn’t reply. He lifted the suitcase onto his lap and made a space for me.

My word of thanks was not enough. I didn’t complain that his suitcase was bumping me because he kept it on his lap instead of putting it on the floor. When the train moved forward, it naturally pushed me into him.

He screamed. “Why you pushing me?”

I said nothing. Just pulled my jacket closer to me, so he and his crap could have more room.

“You’re in my seat. That’s why you’re pushing me. See the white line? You’re sitting on it. You are in my seat. You crossed the line.”

“Sorry,” I replied with a smile. That’s when I noticed that the top part of his face had retreated under the blue of the hood.

“You need to move. You in my seat.” Passengers stared but said nothing. On the train it’s best to ignore crazies and/or stay away from them.

The universe gave me this seat and I was not about to give it up. Besides if his ass got too out of hand I could use my good arm and hit him upside the head with my Zabar’s bag with five rolls of coins. With all the weights they had me lifting to strengthen my arms I could probably pretty knock him out with one blow.

But I said nothing, just kept reading like any good train riding New Yorker.

He got up. “I’m putting my suitcase in this seat.” Afterwards he adjusted his hood to try to look dangerous, an eyeless almost noseless monster.

“Get her from the inside,” he started to chant in a growl “Get her from the inside and rip it out of her. She ain’t your wife. She ain’t nothing to you. Rip it out and then tell her you’re gonna kill her husband. Kill him dead.”

It wasn’t the redundancy that made me look at him. It was the fact that he actually was getting into what he was saying. He was trying to become a monster.

I am sure I was supposed to be scared and I was supposed to get up and move. But being a Taurus was getting to me. The monster had no idea what I had in my lap. I didn’t want to be another one of those ‘incidents’ you hear about on the train, but I was not the one out of control.

I was the one with $50 in coins in my lap. A weapon capable of some destruction

He growled on blind under his hood. “I ain’t never been married, Ain’t never had no children. I ain’t that kind of man. I wouldn’t do that to a woman. Not me. Ain’t like that. I never touched her twat. Never touched her twat.”

A man standing in the doorway got offended by the language and tried to shush the speaker. Of course that kind of sentiment does not work with crazies in New York or anywhere else.

“I can’t do that to a woman. I ain’t no good for her. She ain’t my woman, I ain’t married to her. But you all want me to start.” His voice got louder and I secured my left hand around the bag.  My weapon of choice, the money to buy my skirt. My determination. He couldn’t have my seat, he couldn’t have my money. He couldn’t ruin my day.

For a moment I wondered which one of us was the crazy.

But he went on and on, getting a bit louder with no one was paying him any attention, threatening to start at ‘it’ again. Whatever it was.

And then he grabbed his suitcase, said excuse me to a few people, lifted his hood, and got off at the next stop.

Did I triumph or was this just the Monday morning show?

I really didn’t care. I was on my way to the bank, then the doctor and then to my skirt. My beloved skirt that I did not need. Victory was mine.

That is until I got off the train and discovered the bank was no longer there.

Taurus determination included a plan B Get some Starbucks, go to the doctor then pay for the skirt with the rolled coins. After all, it is money.

MY store was having another sale. All winter merchandise 75% off. Most winter merchandise in New York can be worn into early June, especially with the cool weather we are having now.

The skirt that I longed for was long gone. Did I mention I had never tried it on? That it was a straight, and tight with many shades of blue and green in it that made it multi seasonal? It was so cool.

But I didn’t leave the store. I couldn’t. I got the coins, braved the train, didn’t have a bank. I was a Taurus, determined to be vindicated for harm undone with the purchase of something remotely close to what I came for.

I found a skirt that also matched the jacket and probably fit better than the tight one. And it was $10 less than what I had planned to pay.

The universe was with me.

The clerk looked at me funny when I explained my coin dilemma but her response was a positive: “If they are rolled I don’t see why not. It’s money.”

Damn right its money. It was quarters not rolls of pennies. Now $50 in pennies I would not have been able to lift.

And before you chastise me for taking a chance with a crazy on a train for a seat, please note that I have been admonished by my mother, my daughters but not my husband. I wasn’t feeling brave, I was feeling scared. I was just feeling Taurus.

We work until we get what we want.





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Minnette Coleman is a writer, actress and singer born in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of two novels “The Blacksmith’s Daughter” and “No Death by Unknown Hands.” She resides in Harlem, New York and is a member of the Harlem Writers Guild.

1 comment to Subway Story – Determined Taurus

  • Quite a story, Minnette. You could always move to San Diego, where we have no subway crazies because we have no subways. I’m an Aries, by the way. We suffer from big personalities and small attention spans. Never moved over here to the GJ because I resolved to quit trying to correct every dumb person on the Internet. Took too much time. Good to see you’re still writing, though.

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