Sunday, October 2, 2005

If You See Something, Say Something

The N train slows to a halt and opens its doors, releasing old passengers, collecting new ones. I put down the Times Magazine to look at the new faces and bulky Sunday strollers that crowd the center aisle. Just behind the families and tourists, barely visible on the faded yellow wall of the subway car, is an MTA poster (Mass Transit Authority, for you non New Yorkers/city-dwellers).


I turn back to the Times and the Didion piece. But, this time, I can’t concentrate. I stare at the poster and listen to the babies gurgle, the blind beggar with the impressive baritone begin an Otis Redding tune. Like a mother’s final warning or an overhead announcement at the airport, “Last call, this is the last call for passenger Belle on flight 6759 to Birmingham, Alabama…” the words of the slogan resonate in my mind.

What is the difference between informing and snitching? Telling and divulging? Enlightening and exposing? If I saw a lone backpack on the subway platform, yes, of course I would report it. The same goes for a suspicious piece of luggage in Penn Station or Grand Central. But, what about when it comes to the more difficult things in life—when there are repercussions for “saying something when you see something?” What would y’all do?

My conscience makes me open up. My conscience makes me reveal things that I wish I could keep tucked in the box springs of my bed, somewhere hidden beneath my feather mattress and silk comforter. My conscience makes me disclose information that, perhaps, I should keep to myself.

“Writing, writing, writing… to relieve the pressure on my heart and conscience.”

I’ve seen too much to sit still, keep my mouth closed. Relay. Release. Reveal. Expose. Expose’…

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