While riding the train this morning on my way to my job, I witnessed an interesting display of bigotry , ignorance, and misguided focus. When the train stopped at the Peachtree Center station, an older white man that looked to be in his sixties wedged himself in between the closing train doors and shouted some obscenities to proclaim his displeasure that the doors almost closed on him. The man appeared to be homeless, and probably intoxicated. He muddled over to the front of the train to claim the spot where he wanted to stand. There were three Asian women already on the train speaking in their tongue at a slightly elevated pitch. This apparently irritated the old man so much that he started yelling at them "go back home!". They may not have understood what he was saying since they only glanced up at him every few seconds while continuing to talk to each other. Maybe they were focused on something of higher value to them like a new business opportunity. He was obviously referring to their race and assumed that they were immigrants and not native born Americans since they were of Asian decent and not speaking English. Every fifteen seconds or so he would shout out "go back home!" and "that is the problem with this country, there are too many Japanese, Mexicans, and Chinese here!" He must not have been as intoxicated as he appeared since he left black people out. That was probably due to the fact that around 95% of the people on the train were black. He continued his racist rant for about another five minutes until the train operator announced that we were at Lindbergh station. The old man obviously was supposed to get off at an earlier stop because he started cursing again while darting off the train in a drunken panic.
The old man spent so much time focusing on people who looked different from him that he missed his opportunity to get off at the right stop. I wonder how many other areas of his life in the past did he focus on the wrong things that may have led to his predicament? Unfortunately the old man is symbolic of too many people in this country that feel like they own America. These people focus so much time and misguided energy on what others who do not look like them are gaining, and not on the opportunities that they themselves are missing out on.
Are you focused in the right areas. Are you reaching your God given potential and seizing opportunities that are only steps away?
I live south of the Atlanta, Georgia area in in an area known as Henry County which is outside the perimeter (OTP). I used to drive about fifty miles one way to my job in Sandy Springs, Georgia. My drive through the Atlanta traffic was a stressed filled stop and go experience, laced with artful curse words that would make a sailor with the filthiest mouth blush several times over. After many urgings from my co-workers, the desire to save money, and alleviate stress, I reluctantly decided to use Atlanta’s transit system MARTA to get to work. After all, what would normally cost the average person riding MARTA One-hundred dollars per month for an unlimited pass, would only cost me forty dollars per month, thanks to my job supplementing the majority of the monthly MARTA expense. This sure beat spending $250 per month filling my tank up. Using MARTA also meant less wear and tear on my new car, and also the avoidance of the metro Atlanta traffic nightmare that I had grown accustomed to.
The very idea of using MARTA to get to work was met with s0me serious trepidation on my part. I always felt that MARTA was used by people who could not afford a car to drive to work, and not for a person like myself who had a new car that was super reliable. I also thought that riding MARTA was going to be a big hassle when it came to dealing with crowded trains and learning which trains I needed to catch to reach my destination. I liked to listen to various podcasts and music in my vehicle, and I did not want to stop my listening habits by riding the train to work. I also must admit that I was slightly concerned with being a victim of crime, since the majority of my train route would take me through areas of urban poverty.
All of the preconceptions that I had about MARTA were completely wrong. Not only were my preconceptions wrong, it has in many ways been a blessing to me in ways that I did not expect.
When I catch earlier trains I am able to avoid the majority of the MARTA rush hour crowds. I am able to have a relaxing seat all the way to my destination. I can also listen to my podcasts and music using my headphones without interruption. Another huge unexpected benefit to using MARTA is that I have to walk to and from my last stop to my job. It is only about half a mile, but this daily walk has helped to increase my cardiovascular endurance since I walk at a brisk rate.
The logistics of catching the train has turned out to be rather simple and MARTA even has mobile apps that help me keep up with the trains I need to catch, and also to report any crimes or suspicious activities.
There are times when I don’t get to catch the early trains, and I do run into crowds. That is not MARTA’s fault, but my own. It is usually a result of me hitting the snooze button on my iPhone alarm clock too many times. Even when I do have to deal with the crowds, it is a reconfirming experience. On a daily basis, without fail, I see young men that the conservative media likes to refer to as young thugs. These young men are not thugs, but in fact they are young gentlemen in their own way. I watch time after time as these young men give up their seats to elderly women who otherwise would have to stand. I also see that some of these young men are headed to their jobs wearing their construction gear or their restaurant uniforms. If you listen to the conservative media you would think that these same young men spend their day selling crack and playing the knockout game.
My preconceived ideas of what my MARTA experiences would be like turned out to be totally false and off the mark. I wonder what other preconceived notions that I have that are totally in left field. What am I missing out on in life by these notions?
Do you have any preconceptions that you can destroy? Try getting rid of them and you might just be surprised at the outcome.
I grew up as a lanky kid born in Chicago, and growing up in Meridian, Mississippi. I have the benefit of both Midwestern and Southern roots, and a minority perspective. Those culturally rich perspectives have become the backdrop for me and my identifying with the common person through political and social commentary.
Before and after college, I served my country in the Army for ten years. My military career deepened my resolve to stay connected to my country and community through civic involvement. Through writing, I hope to touch those around me and leave my footprint on the world.
Christian | Husband | Video | Barbecue Lover | Tech-Geek | MBA |1906 | soldier|Future Coder (Python)
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