Another F train story.

There was a man leaning against the doors one morning who noticed a woman sitting across the car. He walked over to her, placing himself directly behind me (I was standing and holding one of those brushed chrome vertical poles), and began flirting with her mercilessly, talking about how he wanted to marry her, how he’d treat her right, how he’d show her what it meant to be a woman, and other vague, thinly veiled sexual promises. “Mmm-mmm!” he’d say. “Mmm-mmm!.”

She was attractive but totally average-looking, in my opinion. No better-looking than half the women on the train.

She did her best to ignore him, but he did not let up. So, realizing she was not going to look up at him, the guy started to get belligerent.

She buried her attention deeper in the newspaper she had been trying to read. As I glanced around discreetly, I could see that she was clearly distressed. She may have been looking at the paper but she was definitely not reading it. Her eyes were not moving, and she looked nervous.

Then the train stopped in the tunnel somewhere between Roosevelt Avenue and 21st St. All went quiet. There was not even any unintelligible intercom announcement explaining the delay.

The guy started up again. “I work for myself. I’m my own boss,” he said. And “I got me a burger in his bag. I’m saving it for a homeless person.” He has so much money, he said. So much money, he’s going to go to Germany on business.

I can verify that he had a bag in his hand. But as for the rest of it, I can only assume he was … exaggerating the truth.

“I got more than 5 G’s at home, baby. It’s all mine. I’m my own boss. Ain’t no one gone tell me what to do.”

No one was coming to her aid. She didn’t want to cross him; she was scared of him. I did not want to cross him, because he was obviously crazy and not the kind of guy I want to be stuck with on a train in a tunnel.

And then who would come to my rescue? No one.

The train lurched into motion again.

Evidently someone looked at him, because he turned his attention to someone else. “What you looking at?” he snapped. “Fuck you.”

Then he began muttering to no one in particular. “People don’t mind they own god-damn business. What the hell is wrong wit you?” He said some more about Germany and all his money and his happy employment situation. I don’t know who he was talking to. He tried to assail the woman with his charms again, but she was ignoring him.

Then: “You want some money? I got money. I ain’t no fool. I’m my own boss. Here, I’ll give you some money. I don’t need no one.” I presumed he was talking to the person who had distracted him. He dug in his pockets and pulled out some change.

No response.

“Here, god-dammit. Take this god-damn money.”

The change fell to the floor, either rejected or ignored. It was a couple of quarters, by the look of it. The crazy guy stooped to pick it up in a fury. I seriously thought he was going to hit someone.

He then started to rant and philosophize. More of the same story. More about the hamburger. Sighs were audible all around the car.

Then the train stopped at 21st Street. The doors slid open. And the man tossed his change out the door onto the platform, shouting “Hey, world. Here’s some change. Give yourself a wake-up call.”

The woman stood up and left the car. I don’t know if she got back on. The good news is the guy did not leave the car to follow her. The bad news is the guy did not leave the car. Evidently he had business to attend to in Manhattan. And that’s where we went next. He continued talking to people who ignored him. I was desperately hoping he would not approach me. To make sure of it, I also left the car at the next stop, ran forward a few doors, and re-entered the train.

To my annoyance, I discovered I had gotten into the very same car — but at least I was down at the far end from him.

Then, as perfect, perverse luck would have it, he made his way down the car in my direction, leaving a trail of distressed but relieved passengers in his wake. I don’t even know what he was saying to people, because I wasn’t paying attention to the words anymore.

Then he announced. “I’m gone get off this train. I ain’t gone bother nobody no more. Fuck all ya’ll! I got to give this here burger to someone. Somebody need this.”

He got out at the next stop — “fuck all y’all” — shouting all the way.


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the untallied hours

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