Monday, July 06, 2020 20:50

(Crazy) People On A Train

(This is the first of what I’ve labelled “Retro Blog” posts, which basically just means it’s something I wrote some time ago, on paper, and I’ve transcribed it for the blog. I decided to keep the tense how I originally wrote it.)

September 12, 2010 Sunday


That’s where this one starts, with waffles.  Shannon is home for a little while between stops on The Carefree Gypsy Roadshow, and I haven’t seen her for some time. Last night we were supposed to go bowling, but as the evening rolled on, we were both too tired to be arsed to actually go bowling. I was up medium early for a Sunday (re: before 9 am) and saw she was online. In the course of “Hey, how ya doing! Long time!” conversation, I mentioned I wanted chorizo. She countered with wanting waffles. And thus was the genesis of today’s adventure.

Okay, so, in the middle, between the chorizo and waffles, there was talk of her wanting to put ice cream on her girl bits… But the less that is said about that the better, and I have already dedicated an entire section to it.

Moving on.

I load up my manpurse backpack with the essentials of an adventure: about two dozen pens and pencils, two composition books, one steno notebook, a small notepad, a binder full of paper, a clipboard, a book to read or in this case a fantasy novel and a role-playing game rulebook to read… Okay, yes, I am a geek. If the Zombie Apocalypse strikes while I am out having an adventure, I’ll still be able to game.  Will you?

I grab the iPod, headphones, wallet, keys (with 16 gig flash drive attached), and I’m off.  I stop at QT for munchies and hydration and I’m on my way.

But this isn’t about waffles, me being an Alpha Geek, riding the train, or even about Shannon’s girl bits with ice cream on them, which I swore I wasn’t going to write about anymore and yet, here we are.

Although I suppose in a roundabout way, this is about riding the train, and the “interesting” people you meet when you do.

And by “interesting,” of course, I mean utterly batshit insane.

After finding a seat to my liking and settling in, I heard her, talking loudly about “naked women and Indians,” if I recall correctly. She laughed, and loudly ask “You know what I mean?” For some reason, this caused me to break Rule #1 of Dealing With Strangers in Public (which of course is “You do not deal with strangers in public.”) and I turned around to look at her.

She was sitting in the back row on an aisle seat, leaning forward with that kind of fervent intensity that only comes from being somewhat detached from reality. She had that hard, weathered look about her that made determining her age nearly impossible, and if forced, I would only hazard a guess of somewhere between thirty and fifty. She had this misshapen floppy hat pulled down onto her head, like she was afraid it was going to fly away at a moment’s notice. (Her head or her hat? Yes.) When she was talking, I noticed one singular tooth in her mouth, an upper incisor, only adding to her crazy snaggle-toothed old lady mystique. But nothing could have made her look any crazier than her eyes. They were wild, unfocused, and when they looked at me, I was hard pressed to know if she was seeing a fat guy with a backpack on the train, or Abraham Lincoln in a pink bunny suit riding a velociraptor. If one’s eyes are a window to the soul, then her soul was Chaos, pure and simple.

Sitting across from her was an elderly couple, cowering in their seats, shrinking away from her aura of crazy as if they were seated next to a grizzly bear.

So I did what any experienced traveler would do in a situation like that: quickly turned around in my seat, turned up the volume on my iPod until I couldn’t really hear her anymore and did my best to pretend she didn’t exist.

Yeah, that sounds a little harsh, but seriously, what the fuck was I supposed to do? Walk over to her and let her touch the hem of my robe, lay my hand upon her forehead and shout “You are-uh HEAL-ED!”

Let me be clear, I am in no way a licensed, clinically trained expert in the field of psychology, but I know crazy when I see it. (previous dating history notwithstanding) This was not one of those loud annoying drunk douchebags, the kind you try your best to ignore, even though your primitive hind-brain keeps watch in case the do something stupid and you get to go all medieval on them and teach them the error of their ways!

Okay, maybe your primitive hind-brain doesn’t think like that, but mine does.

But one doesn’t just sober up from crazy, so you’re left with no other option except reducing them to a non-entity, culling them from your mental herd.

And this is coming from someone who goes out of his way to tell every beggar that asks for change “Sorry, I don’t carry any cash.” Someone once ask, when I stopped to tell one that, “You didn’t give them any money, did you?” in a tone that suggested I had somehow infected myself merely by talking to them. I replied “No, I told them I don’t carry any cash. They may be homeless, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge their existence as a human being.”

And yet that is exactly what I did to this woman on the train. I tried to pretend she didn’t exist. Is this because the specter of mental illness affects me that much more? I’ve certainly felt much closer to losing my grip on reality than I ever have to being honestly homeless. I know that if I suddenly needed an emergency home there are multiple peoples in my life who would let me crash until I got on my feet again. But I don’t know anyone with the ability to fix a broken brain, at least one as far gone as this one appeared to be.

It wasn’t very long before she wandered off the train at a stop, carrying on a conversation with someone who only she could see, unless she had a Bluetooth hidden under her floppy hat, and I continued on my way and had an awesome rest of my adventure, including waffles, but still…

There but for the grace of God and all that.

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5 Responses to “(Crazy) People On A Train”

  1. Beth says:

    Last weekend on Mill a guy asked for money. I did what I always do, which is look the guy in the eye and said, “Sorry, I don’t carry cash.” This is 100% true. I just don’t carry paper money. My brother high-fived the guy and merrily exclaimed, “Absolutely not!” The guy looked at me and smirked, “Hey, at least HE’S honest.” Smarmy mother fucker, you spange on Mill Avenue professionally and you’re lecturing ME on veracity?

  2. Ann says:

    Oh my, the person asking for money offended you. Next time he should learn better than to upset his betters. Maybe you should have handed him one of your five-dollar words.

    And yes, ignoring people. Like people ignore my son, in the hopes he goes away…should lock them all up, so no one has to be made to feel uncomfortable.

    This hurts more to read than you imagine. Most people don’t want to outlive their children, but I am afraid to die because he’s left in a world of, well…this.

    • The Ron says:

      Yes, I ignored her. Nowhere did I say it was the right thing to do. And I don’t recall ever advocating locking anyone up. It sucks that people react like that, but let’s face it, that is human nature, unfortunately. You know that better than most. But I realized that was the way I reacted, and I admit it. Is that worse than someone who does it and then hides it?

  3. suz says:

    Ok so i am one that goes against the typical grain. I don’t normally carry cash because i never have any. I am a starving student, but a happy one none the less. I have been on every side of this issue. I have been homeless, hungry, addicted to everything, and at many times the crazy on the bus, talking to myself because there is no one else who wants to listen. But i wised up. I am settled and happy now. I also suffer from hypoglycemia so i tend to carry little snacks with me in my purse. For me if someone asks me for change or money i give them a snack out of my purse. I figure if they are genuine and hungry they are going to take it and eat it. 95 % of the time they do. Only 5% turn me down, actually offended that i tried to give them a granola bar. Regardless of the outcome, my experiment works every time. Those who are really hurt or broken are grateful, those who are offended do not take my offering of peace because of personal guilt. Karma has done its job well. 🙂

  4. Potted Plant says:

    I keep a few photocopied twenties in my wallet just for this type of occasion. If the bum can successfully pass the phony bill, more power to ’em.

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