Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 79


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; that early morning smell – woodchips going down a blender; guinea pig bedding; cheap office coffee brewing in the back; I blew on the cup to cool it down, but wish I hadn’t; when the coffee got cool enough to drink, it was also cool enough to taste.

A writer was taking the DC metro when she saw one of the workers eating in the corner of the train. So she tweets: “When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train. I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds.” And she takes a photo of the woman to tag with it. That tweet gets scene by a bunch of people, including Jezebel, who wrote the article I read about this in. The author’s name is Natasha Tynes. Her publisher is considering pulling her book deal.

Good riddance.

Like all stories, there’s always a few sides, and to give Natasha the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was having a bad day when she publicly shamed this metro worker for her basic bodily functions. If I’m being less generous, though, the story didn’t surprise me from the moment I read that Natasha is a writer. There’s a slippery undercurrent to writing books. A two-headed thing, a salamander, something old, that idolizes the times when ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ were divine acts given only to the most noble or holy castes of society. It peeks beneath casual comments about grammar or over the thick-rimmed glasses of your freshman writing prof when he says ‘we only study literary fiction here.’ Writing has a rich history of being exclusionary. And writers have a way of eating that exclusivity up.

Which is particularly ridiculous given what the value of writing fiction is: a sieve. Good books drop the world in one end and pass it back out the other, only the pieces are rearranged to something more sensible than the onslaught of daily chaos we all experience in our lives. It picks out the faults, the fears, the idiosyncrasies of being human. Those chipped edges are the bread and butter of good writing. How much passion or woe must have been in every bite the metro worker took of her sandwich, and instead of words to work this image big, bold and beautiful as it deserves to be, Natasha cuts her down. Self-defeating elitism. The snake nips its tail.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Tynes says she confronted the employee, who told her to “worry about yourself.”

Emily Alford, writing for Jezebel; A Writer Who Shamed a D.C. Metro Worker for Eating on a Train Could Lose Publishing Deal

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