Broken clouds, light snow
Broken clouds, light snow
17.6 °F
December 13, 2017
River Reporter Facebook pageTRR TwitterRSS Search

Judging a book by the cover

March 30, 2016

The recent terror attacks in Belgium remind us that this new world we live in is far from safe, yet we go on with our daily routines. Although the incident occurred an ocean away, we here in New York can still feel the sting of the attacks that landed here on our shores. I was across from the towers on 9/11 and saw the horror firsthand, yet I cannot blame one race or religion of people. There are good and bad in every neighborhood, and I for one cannot profile any race or religion.

The attacks on the Brussels subway are more personal for me. Being a commuter, I can relate to the horror those people must have felt and the helpless feeling that goes on during an event like that. I have been on a few train derailments—one in particular that was a very close call, as the train car I was in wound up practically on its side. We have also seen the reports of derailments such as the Metro North train that killed those poor riders just going to work.

I make a conscious effort not to dwell on thoughts of what could happen and close my eyes taking my naps assured that the incidents are rare. I do remember one incident that had my heart racing as I let those thoughts of what could happen run away with me, leaving me shaken and sweating with fear.

I had just boarded the train in Hoboken for the ride home, just another evening commute; it was six short months after 9/11. Across the aisle from me stood a young man dressed in tattered jeans, a dark hoodie and carrying a new briefcase, which seemed odd considering his tattered attire. He stood looking back and forth, up and down the train car holding on to the briefcase tightly with one hand. He looked nervous to me and was looking for something; I began to wish he would just sit down. His complexion and facial features were consistent with a man of Middle Eastern decent. There, in that instant, I had profiled the man, and more: I had determined that what was in the brief case was nothing good.

Time moved in slow motion as I tried to tell myself not to say anything and to ease the flood of thoughts running through my head. The man was standing for about five minutes, but it felt much longer. The more nervous I became, the guiltier this guy looked. I had quickly eliminated all the normal reasons he was standing looking the way he was and now was building my case for fleeing the train.