7 Minutes

In the 7 minutes it takes me to walk to the subway, I see a variety of images that appear in this short film of life. More than a few are constant, for each trip down Nostrand Avenue features several baby carriages pushed by young Black women. I smile whenever I see a Black man pushing one. Some of these carriages are being pushed with concern about getting across the street first, using the baby as a siren.

Young men are on the first corner I cross on Nostrand Avenue. They wear the space coats and hoods and caps and Tommy’s and Nike’s. Drug dealers? Not really, they just live off the misery of others. I think that’s called hustling. It’s common practice in America…get what you can how you can. The Man has been doing it since forever so let’s not get on their backs about it.

Somebody will usually ask me for something in my seven-minute trek to the subway. A cigarette. “Say brother, you got a quarter? All I need is 50 cents.” I have developed my walk to hinder anyone saying anything to me. Stern face. Deliberate strides suggesting I have to be some place very important very soon.

All of my walks to the A train in the last 11 years have not provided me with depressing images. My favorite event happens at the corner of Nostrand and Atlantic. Sometimes, a car waiting at the light will honk at me, or holler out the window. They saw me working somewhere and wanted to let me know they thought I was funny. Yes, there are occasions where my walk is downright inspiring. It was in this stretch of Brooklyn that gave me the inspiration for, “The Good Walk.”

So I suppose you take the good with the bad, but I sure wish I smiled more while walking down the avenue.

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William Stephenson

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