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Platforms and Sidewalks

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

It was a Monday. It was a Monday like any other Monday in March. Longer days and the air slowly loosening its frosty bite of the city. Optimistic buds dotted tree branches along Park Avenue. Here and there, the dark uniforms of winter were sprinkled with bursts of bright, blue scarves and magenta, light wool coats. Even the wind seemed unsure of itself, vacillating between icy gusts and cool caresses. As Charles Dickens himself might characterize it, the day was caught between two seasons - summer in the light and winter in the shade.


Walking to Grand Central to catch her train, Morgan noticed a woman in a yellow dress and four-inch platform sandals. The woman was teetering which was odd since platforms are stable.

“You’re dirty!” A raspy, male voice bellowed.


Morgan looked around. No one blinked. Maybe they didn’t hear - many wore headphones and the rest were text-walking. Morgan checked her phone. 6:44 p.m. As long as she got to the platform by 6:53 p.m., the conductor wouldn’t leave. Morgan caught up with the woman in platforms. They both stopped as the crosswalk began to blink “Don’t Walk” on 38th street. 

“You, hey you! You’re dirty!” The voice sounded closer.


Is he talking to me?


The crosswalk flashed “Walk.” The woman in platforms crossed the street. Morgan noticed a man pointing a finger at the woman and calling her a “dirty girl.” The heckler was just a few people behind the woman in platforms.


Phew. Not talking to me.


Morgan crossed the street and started following them, past 40th street and past Grand Central. Clearly the girl was in danger, and Morgan was the only one who cared. People are so apathetic.


From her vantage point Morgan saw the heckler was dressed in a clean plaid shirt tucked into dark jeans. Grey hair, neatly combed to one side.


He was just feet away from the young woman. As she stepped off the sidewalk to cross the street, she stumbled. Morgan bit her lip expecting the woman to fall. The raspy-voiced man stretched out a hand towards the floundering woman.


6:49 p.m. Morgan hesitated. By this time the woman had gained a full block. Morgan set off on a light jog to catch up. As she ran she felt her hair clips loosen, freeing her massive mane which Morgan liked to keep tame under tight hair implements.


At last, Morgan reached the same block as the woman in platforms and watched her cross while “Don’t Walk” counted down: “5, 4, 3, 2,….” Morgan sprinted across, nearly colliding with a cabbie who slammed on his squeaky breaks, deafening everyone in the crosswalk and causing

their hands to fly up to their ears. The heckler stayed back at the light.

This was it. Morgan’s chance.


Wheezing from her sprint, Morgan finally caught up to the woman in platforms.


“Excuse me …” Morgan panted, while trying in vain to smooth her hair.


The platformed one pulled out a headphone, filling the air with the dull, percussive throb and blaring synthesizers of EDM music. Morgan felt the creepy guy getting closer.


“Where … you … walking? I ... walk .. you … feel … safe.”


Morgan wiped her sweaty forehead and scratched her damp head.


The young woman looked from Morgan’s oily face to her hair, which felt several inches above her scalp.


“I don’t feel unsafe, until now.” The young woman stuffed the headphone back into her ear and walked off briskly.


Morgan stood gobsmacked until someone appeared in front of her.


“What are you doing?” Fierce blue eyes looked through Morgan.


“Nothing. I ...”


“Mind your own business, lady.”


“Well, but, you …”


“What?”


“Insulting that poor woman ...”


He brought his face to Morgan’s ear.


“Listen. I get paid good money to insult that girl. The music in her ears is so loud she can’t hear me.”


Morgan’s mouth dropped open.


“Can’t be serious,” Morgan muttered under her breath. She stepped around him and continued her pursuit, looking around for cameras filming this possible new reality show.


“Where are you going, lady!?”


Morgan began jogging again. Though she was no longer sure why. Who pays him to shout insults?


“Hey! Leave her alone!” 

Morgan checked her phone and panicked. 6:52 p.m. She turned and ran back to Grand Central.


“Mind your own business next time!” The man shouted as she ducked into the terminal entrance. Maybe she could still make her train. She just needed to reach the platform.

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