The Crazies

He stepped into the subway car and announced in full voice, “I never met a woman who wasn’t a government agent.”

And then I turned up my iPod. He continued to rant, but I could only see his lips move. Then I looked down. Don’t make eye contact.

I am thankful for the little blessings in life, such as the ability to tune out this stuff. But I am also grateful for the ability to tune it back in on demand. If memory serves, I recognized this guy as the same one who once declared that lesbians like to eat fish. I wondered at the time what might have given him such expert status. Clearly he has issues with women of all stripes. I clicked PAUSE.

Apparently it was a short story he had to tell. The next thing I heard him say was just a recap. “I never met a woman who wasn’t a government agent.” And, thank sweet Jesus, I was able to turn the music back on.

Sometimes you can avoid these visitations. As the subway is rolling to a stop at the platform, you see one empty car among a dozen jam-packed cars. Too good to be true? Yes. Don’t enter it. Usually a homeless person is sleeping inside under a pile of coats and blankets, and the odor of months-unwashed clothing, rancid breath, festering human tissue and, very likely, near-death illness is enough to keep the car clear.

A subway car suddenly overtaken by a noisy class of teenage girls on a school field trip is also enough to send one running in the other direction. I have even left a car to avoid an aggressive panhandler. (He threw someone’s change out the door at a stop, because he felt disrespected.) But sometimes you are too tired to move and you just close your eyes, turn up the volume, and hope it will end.


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the untallied hours

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