Weekend Musings


Let me tell you what I observed yesterday. Well, it wasn’t as much what I observed but rather, what happened to me. Friday morning on the way to my office, I noticed the train was unusually empty. There were only three riders, including me. Someone way on the other end of the train came closer to where I was sitting and struck up a conversation. I was hoping he maintained proper distance, and he did, thankfully. He stayed about three arm’s length away; that’s roughly six feet – the distance the CDC recommends for keeping ourselves and others safe from the spread of COVID-19. He was also wearing a mask just like I was. For some reason, I always think people are going to ask for money when they begin talking to me out of the blue. But that didn’t happen this time. I don’t mind helping people out, but working in a downtown area, I encounter more than my share of men and women who ask for some financial help. Some are more aggressive than others. I help when I can. Sometimes I’ll help even if they don’t ask if I’m feeling generous. I know not everyone will ask for help, no matter how bad things may get.  When I’m not thinking people will ask for money, I expect them to snatch my phone and run or run away with my bookbag. I know of some situations in which people have started conversations with a stranger merely as a distraction to steal their belongings, sometimes working with a partner nearby. I observed a very well-orchestrated scheme of this sort when I visited Italy. I’ll tell you about that some other time.

This guy yesterday didn’t ask for any money nor did he try to take anything. He was genuinely a pleasant person and was very interesting. I still wondered what he wanted, though. I soon found out. He complimented me on how I was dressed and asked about my profession. “May I ask, what is your profession?” he asked.  He was very polite and proper. I gave my little 20 – 30 second elevator speech about my job. Without missing a beat, CJ (I’m using a pseudonym …wouldn’t want to embarrass anybody) said, “Wow that’s quite fascinating. Can I get your number?” Instead of giving my number, I asked CJ about his career goals. I did a good job maintaining my poker face. Usually when I’m approached by a stranger, I have this, “What do you want, and why are you bothering me?” look on my face. But more than that, I don’t turn on until around 7:30 am on work days; it was only 6:15. But, I’m growing. I’ve been working on nurturing my emotional intelligence.

I still wasn’t about to give my number. I guesstimated he was approximately 20 years old, based on the timeline he gave on his life since high school. I could tell he wasn’t your garden variety, run-of-the-mill 20-year-old. I run in to a lot of them. CJ was very different. He was super confident, very well spoken, smart as a whip, and his dialogue was very intriguing. Notwithstanding those attributes, I’m not as fast as I used to be, so I didn’t give my number.

CJ was very conversant. He began talking about becoming an entrepreneur in the area of computer programming including Python, Unix, C++, web design, and JAVA  — and he mentioned some other programming languages I knew nothing about. His goal, he said, is to become a small business owner and support other small businesses with their technology needs. He was certainly more aware of current affairs than I was at 20 years old. Not a lot of 20-year olds talk about being an entrepreneur with such a focused zeal. Then he began asking me lots of questions about classes and certifications and any resources I would recommend and asked again for my number. During the conversation, he asked for my number four times. As tempting as it was, I instead wrote down some websites that I thought would be helpful to him as he forges ahead with his entrepreneurial goals. He thanked me for talking with him and returned to his seat.

Maybe I should have given him my number or email address. I suspect I could have been a wealth of support and directed him toward many helpful resources. Young black men have a hard enough time just because of the color of their skin, no matter how smart and focused they are. They can always use a little help and guidance. After we parted ways, I thought of several additional resources I could have, should have shared. But I think I did the right thing not giving my number. I just don’t have it in me to be a mentor at this time, if that is what he wanted. Perhaps sometime in the future.

I don’t doubt that he really does want to be a technology entrepreneur. His goals were too detailed for him not to be. As smart and as organized as he was, I believe he will land on his feet and thrive as a business owner. Maybe asking me for resources was a ruse. Maybe it was authentic. Who knows? It was flattering that he took time to talk to me and ask me for tips, nonetheless. I could tell he was very disappointed that I didn’t give my number. What in the world would I do with a 20-year-old anyway? Of course, that’s just a rhetorical question.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

About Will S.

A nouveau Taurus, writing about my view of the world around me. From politics, to social problem, to public corruption, music and movies to pretty much anything I feel inspired to write. We all need meaningful activities and hobbies to add value to our lives and take our minds away from the stress of the real world. Blogging does that for me.
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