Last year, I was in center-city Philadelphia about noon on a pleasant spring day, so pleasant, I decided to ride the subway down to the Second Street Station near Penn’s Landing and spend some time gazing at the Ben Franklin Bridge and enjoying the warm breezes coming off of the Delaware River. I went to the 13th Street Station and passed through the ticketing turnstile with a wave of my Medicare card. The platform had only a handful of passengers waiting on both sides of the tracks.
I sat on an empty bench at the deserted far end of the platform to wait. Soon, a huge black girl, coal black, appearing to be in her 20s, both tall and grossly fat, easily weighing over 300 pounds, sat down on the other end of the bench . . . and farted.
She was so heavy, the fart came out loud and high-pitched, almost like the squeal of the train wheels as it rounded a corner, but there was no mistaking what it was. It visibly startled the passengers waiting on the opposite platform. “This is interesting,” I thought. How would she handle the situation? It was far too loud to ignore or to pretend it came from someone else. Certainly, I was incapable of producing such a sound.
She handled it well with surprising decorum. She continued to look straight ahead and quietly said, “’Scuse me.”
“You’re excused,” I replied, also quietly. Since I was the only one who could hear her apology, it was obviously directed to me, and I felt the need to say something.
And that was all. Both of us continued to look straight ahead. Neither of us needed to say anything more, and the light from the incoming train could already be seen emerging from the tunnel. We boarded the train, and I never saw her again.