He takes the stairs down to the platform and walks along a gallery of ads until he reaches the spot where he always waits. After taking a peek into the tunnel, he turns back and paces toward the wall. He gazes at an ad. Liberate yourself. He keeps staring at it for a while, then he hears the low rumbling of the approaching subway and he has to go.
This happens every day of that week. He looks at the ad, then the train whisks him away.
A new week starts and he stands on the platform again. He looks at the ad. Did you liberate yourself? He feels like it used to say something else.
The next day he passes the ad again. You're not liberating yourself. He wonders. It seems strange to him. He takes a picture with his phone.
The following day he approaches the ad slowly. Jack, you're not liberating yourself. He checks his phone, but he must have accidentally erased the picture.
The next day, You know what I’m talking about. If he thinks about it, he must admit that the ad is right. He probably should stand up for himself more.
Do it. He resolves to do it. After getting on the train, he sits lonely at the far end of the bench. A group of three enters. They pave their way to him with loud exclamations and jabbing gestures. They disregard him while they are rapt by some opulent, vibrant, foreign chatter. All three squeeze in next to him and push him into the pole at the side of the bench. One stop, two stops, three stops. He stands up, turns to face them and begins to scream at them in made up gibberish. He goes on and on, without a break--like them. Head by head, throughout the train, faces turn toward him. Nobody says a word. There is only the mocking gibberish of his compulsive parody. At the next stop he has to get out. A couple of glances tongue out of the windows while the train rushes him by as he walks along the platform.
He moves on to the 6-train. There he seats himself next to the pole at the end of the bench again. A little later, a grotesquely overweight woman sits down next to him and presses him into the pole. Again. After she sits down, she stuffs her ears with plump ear buds. She is playing a Zombie apocalypse survival game on her phone. He bears it: the pressure, the sound of revolver shots, and screams of dying zombies. One stop, two stops, three stops.
The car swells of people, nevertheless, he stands up, faces the woman and begins to shout, “Oh yeah, look at me. I'm fat and I play video games on full volume on the subway.”
The people around him startle. He keeps screaming. Immediately, the woman tries to turn it around on him attempting to make him feel self-conscious. Very little comes to her mind. She forces a couple of comments about his skin color. The other people try to move away from the scene. Some are filming with their phones, some tell him to shut up.
“You tell me to shut up? Why didn’t you tell her?”
The woman stands up and leaves. He calms down and sits on the bench he cleared. Slowly, but surely a new kind of feeling surges in him. A feeling he had only rarely felt. The certainty of having asserted yourself. Bulky, broad, lean, and strong. He finally feels it. He's breaking free. Now, however, he has to get out. The next stop is where he goes to work.