Perched on the edge of a subway bench, I rolled the taste of spicy jerky around on my tongue, restless and listless. I stared blankly at the precipice of yellow plastic border on the ledge of the subway platform.
Eyes glazing over, I gazed into the void of dinge and dusty track. My empty stare fixed on the accumulation of dirty condom gatorade bottle garbage piling in the crevices of the track, without entirely focusing on any single object. Digesting the jerky and the sight, my eyes went limp, like the beady shark eyes of boys right before they kiss you.
Out of the corner of my eyes, a white shape danced toward the edge of the void, blown along by an inexplicable subterranean zephyr. The white blob gently billowed and blew all the way to the edge of the platform, and teetered lightly on the edge. Suddenly, my gaze rotated into focus, and fixed itself on the rustling white object. It was on the verge of plummeting into the filth below it, on the subway track, from which no one again emerges.
I once dreamed I dropped my phone multiple times onto the subway track. The general idea is that once you drop something down onto the tracks, it's gone. You've lost whatever that precious thing is forever. You don't want to drop something you love on the subway tracks.
I considered the dirty paper towel wavering on the edge of the subway platform for several moments. First, I faced it with city callousness--its fate was absolutely nothing to me. I could sit apathetically on my bench and do nothing about it.
But my heart--so cased in stoic stone of late--beat quickly for my inanimate paper friend. I can do nothing, I thought. I can keep myself locked in this vegetable inertia, or I can actually do something. I can take action, and watch the natural course of events bend to my movement.
So I walked forward, with a slight pulse of trepidation in my step. And I picked up the napkin, gingerly, as if it were an injured dove, or as though the slightest motion of my giant self might bring the napkin to the cusp of doom. I can't believe I picked up that napkin, which may have touched the Lord only knows what before it reached my hand. But pick it up I did, and removed it from the garbage pit of train track to the garbage receptacle provided for our convenience by the MTA.
There is no virtue in loving a paper napkin, sadly. It's pretty much the one thing in the world that there is no merit in doing right by.
But be that as it may, as I deposited the napkin into the trash can, I felt the peace within that comes from doing the right thing, of bringing harmony into the world. Perhaps there is a slight bit of merit in removing litter from the train tracks to to the safety of the trash bin; of putting something back in its proper place.