It keeps happening. Crazy people on the subway. I feel like I’m getting more than my fair share. Is it bad luck? Is it the heat? In Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a neighborhood in Brooklyn is in the middle of a summer heat wave and things keep getting more and more tense among everybody, from personal issues to race oriented, to economic inspired and eventually there’s a riot and Sal’s Pizza gets burned down. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that, but some New Yorkers are just way too tense. I want to go all West coast in my best impression of “Ted” Theodore Logan and say, “Chill out bro, you people need to be more excellent to each other.”
I’m leaving work today and this lady gets on the subway carrying a roll of carpet and a fan. I guess that’s clue number one that she could be suffering from the heat. No one offered her a seat, and I had the privilege of standing next to her. At first she seemed all right. A few stops later she was talking. To whom I’m not sure, but it involved frequent repetition of the words “bitch” and “whore” with “you think you’re all that” thrown in for a little punctuation. I think she was mad at no one giving her a seat, but it seemed like she might be singling out someone in particular. We were crossing the long stretch over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and I was plotting my escape, but she left at the very next stop and there was no incident.
I stopped by the gym and got a workout then got back on the train home, and there’s this guy in a construction shirt and jeans with slicked back hair. I’m riding along thinking about what I need to eat for dinner and this guy answers his phone and starts speaking Russian. His side of the conversation sounded something like this: “Gorbachev stolichnaya trotsky lenin putin das vedanya rasputin SO WHAT?! Leningrad stalingrad kalishnakov rachmaninov babushka balalaka glasnost NO!!!!!”
Once again I’m standing near the offending party, and with this guy, the English words were so loud and pronounced, the whole subway turned to stare.
“Whoah dude, settle down. Your tone is most bogus.”
Scary people. But sometimes its not what you say but what you do. Or don’t do. Or doo doo.
I was on my way home a few nights ago and looking forward to the air conditioned relief of the subway car. As I stepped in my first thought was wet dog, but the smell grew much, much worse as the AC cycled it throughout the car. At the far end was a homeless man slumped in a pile. For all I know he was dead. His smell was a piss brine mixed with a shit sandwich and a side of puke, well fermented from a fine vintage, possibly a 2007. Half the passengers were sneaking past him to get through to the next subway car. I waited at the back with a couple others as we held our noses and waited for the next stop. As soon as the doors opened, we rushed out and jumped in the car behind us. I shouted “Don’t do it!” to the people entering the contaminated car and they must have momentarily thought I was the crazy one.
The safety zone was packed, and half the people already knew the story. We looked at each other and laughed, and one guy asked what’s up as we all stood crowded together. I said, “There’s plenty of seats available on the next car.” And half the subway car laughed. The next three stops to Canal Street were a continuous exodus from the stinky car as more and more victims attempted to breathe again, and the former victims laughed knowing all too well what they had suffered. I love public transportation.
And yeah I couldn’t resist. The late, great Randy Rhoads on guitar: