Metro Stories: The Homeless Family

A Wednesday night ride on the Blue Line from Long Beach to the Valley.

At the Imperial-Wilmington stop board a Latino man and Lady pushing a stroller with two children in them. With seats all taken and a bulky stroller, they parked themselves in front of an exit.

Sitting in front of me towards an exit was an overweight black dude talking on his cell phone about how he was fucked up and drinking all day.

For a split second, this elaboration was interrupted when his girlfriend/wife called in the middle of that conversation. He noticeably lightened his speech. He used terms of endearment like "baby" and said "yeah, I'm at this stop." Sounded like he was apologizing, if a bit deceptively.

After saying his goodbyes, he switched back to the other conversation beginning with "that bitch..." and continued on elaborating on the extent of his drunkenness for the rest of the train to hear.

Apparently, he caught eye of the Latino man and some 5 unusually tall Latino tweens who were sitting left of me and laughing it up. It was someone's first-time ride; amidst the boorishness of the man in front of me, he joked that he was absolutely terrified of this Metro ride.

The black guy, still in conversation, somehow noted these dynamics, making the comment on his phone "these people are scared of me!"

The Latino man with the kids said, "as long as you don't say anything bad about us, it's OK."

Some time later, the black man stopped talking on his phone.

Then from the back, a diagonal view of him, I noticed him twitching or blinking or something else repetitive and undeniably irritating. I was thinking "great, what the fuck now."

Upon closer investigation, he was actually making eye contact with the babies in the strollers. He was playing peek-a-boo with one white-ish baby who was tickled pink.

The drunken, overweight, boorish black man who would probably be at the absolute center of all conservative and Tea Party disdain, did have a sense of human to him, after all.

Somehow the Latino man and the black man got into conversation.

I started noticing when the Latino man said, "We just lost our home."

"We were renting and the guy who owned the house was kicked out. I don't care that I don't have a house, but for my kids..."

"Where are you staying?" asked the black man.

"We don't know yet, we've been staying with some relatives." said the Latina lady.

"Well, there's a place on Broadway and 39th called the New Image Center." My wife is actually there right now. They'll give you a room, and they'll let you get right in because you're a family.

"139th and Broadway?"

"No, 39th and Broadway."

The black man gave the woman her phone to speak to his wife.

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