Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Am I the crazy one here?

Many of us who are familiar with public transportation have learned that there are weirdos out there. For the most part it is a sad sight and I do feel bad, but I also try to steer clear and avoid eye contact (with anyone--crazy or not) as much as possible. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.

On one occasion, using the local C or E from West 4th street, a homeless man was walking down the car shaking a Wendy's cup with change. He was shaking the cup to his own beat, stopping only in front of female passengers to tap them on the head with the dirty cup.

"Yes sir, hitting me on top of the head with a cup inspirits me to dig deep in my pockets to offer you change."

Now, I happened to be particularly cranky on this day. I had been working from 10-3 at my old job in NJ, had taken a one and a half hour bus ride to the city, sat through a boring two hour night class, and now was on my way back home to wait for yet another bus ride back to NJ. As the displaced man shuffled closer to the back of the train car, my eyes focused only on that yellow cup. The eyes of Wendy staring at me as her bright red braids bobbed up and down. I looked for ways to dodge the cup: swing around the pole, jump through his legs, hide behind a tall male passenger, but I only thought of looking away, hoping that I magically would become invisible. But I sure as hell didn't. From the corner of my eye I watched that cup shake slowly up and down, rising closer to the top of my head. I tried to dodge, but the inevitable happened as I was struck by the germ invested container.

What made things worse was that I ended up looking like the crazy person as I stormed away trying to find an empty seat on the other side of the train. And the guy followed me! And hit me again!

When I got home to relay the story to my family, my brother informed me that I was indeed crazy. That I should have just ignored the guy and let him hit me with the cup if that's what made him happy.

"And if you were in my place, you would have let him hit you?!"

Now I try my best to avoid any suspicious character. Even when they are speaking right at me in a drunk jibberish language.

But what happens when you begin to feel like the crazy person on the train? When trying hard to avoid other people, they are in fact avoiding you. A few nights ago, as I was in between transferring from the NY subway to the NJ Path train, I suddenly found my eyes filling with tears. There was no reason for me to be crying. I had just gone out with a co-worker for a drink and nothing was said that would have upset me, but by the time I had boarded the Hoboken Path train, my eyes were puffy, my nose was running, and everything was blurred by the waterworks I was displaying. Maybe I was tired, who knows.

The majority of the packed train was avoiding eye contact--as they should have been--but those who were curious would glance over, their eyes widened as they waited for me to "Praise Jesus" or start muttering to an imaginary friend named Wilbur or Natasha.

This has happened to me a few times, when the bad day shows or at least is beginning to show. You start breaking down, your hair begins to frizz and stand on ends, your eyes are puffy, fly is down, pimples popping. You curse people under your breath because they are walking too slow and they keep randomly stopping in front of you. Your eyes bulge as passengers confess their mushy love to their boyfriends and girlfriends over their cell phones. By the time you reach the front door of your house or apartment, a monster has been created. Eyes blazing--teeth bared.

"Work was fine!!"
"No! I don't want to hear about that article you read on German beer festivals."
"Yes! I am hungry!"
"[Roars] I'm going to bed!"

Then slowly we unwind as we put those comfy pajamas on and tuck ourselves into bed. Only to reemerge as monsters again tomorrow.


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