LA Snapshot: On the Train from County

View of the LA River from the train : not like on TV, huh? © 2015 Sophia Chang

View of the LA River from the train : not like on TV, huh? © 2015 Sophia Chang

Did you just get out of County?

It was such a random thing to hear from one stranger to another in real life (mine at least) that for a second it sounded like a movie line. I was sitting on a purple line train that just left Union Station. The narrow windows of the Men's Central Jail is a familiar site north of the station.

"You just get out of County?" he asked again over the rumbling. 

"Yeah," said the kid. 

"It's been a minute since I've been in...well," he peered around cartoonishly as if at any moment felony might find him, "doing everything I can to stay out."

The man was in his 40s or 50s, Hispanic, wearing a navy shirt with his oiled hair pulled into a ponytail. Tattoos of mostly words were scattered ramshackle across his arms and fingers like drunk ants.

The kid was dressed all in black from jeans to Beanie, including the faded puffy jacket slung over his shoulder.  His curly hair peeked from under his cap and he could have been anywhere in his 20's. He had that lilt that made half his statements sound like questions. 

He was thrown in for violating his parole, originally for a year, but they gave him 5 months instead. 

"It was crowded in there, hunh?" the man said. "When it gets crowded they start letting you out."  

"I was supposed to get out in 10 days but they let me out today." 

Were you surprised?"

"Yeah! Cuz I work for the County? I was at work from 4am to 8. They didn't even let me sleep."

"So what are you going to do now? You going home?" 

"Yeah. I'm going to go home and get ready for the game tonight. Heard the Warriors are playing?"