Field Report: February 27, 2014

Pretty excited to have a new field report.  I feel that it has been far too long since I have had public transportation material.  Dear readers, I hope you enjoy today’s offering.

Max Green Line, AM Commute

The train was fairly empty, as it was past the morning rush.  I was traveling to work late, per usual.  Everyone was quite, reading or listening to music, when the train rolled to a stop at the Main Street station.  The doors opened, a few riders boarded, and the doors shut.  Instead of moving forward, the operator came on and said that we had to wait there a few minutes because there were two trains ahead of her at Gateway.  Not caring about the time, I kept my attention on my Twitter feed, also per usual.

Suddenly I heard, “Man, don’t you touch my bike!”

I looked over in the direction of the voice to see a tall, commanding man in a lime green reflective jacket.  “Are you drunk?!” he asked a smaller man whose attire indicated that he was not as well off as the larger man.  The smaller man said something that I couldn’t make out, and the larger man said, “I’m getting you off this train.”

I was tingly with anticipation, thinking this was going to be a great morning show.  He walked over to the door and pressed the emergency call button.  The operator came on and asked what was needed.  The man said, “Yeah, there’s a drunk and disorderly jackass on this train and he’s touching my bike.”  The operator said something about contacting security and the man replied, “Oh, he is going to get off this train.”

The smaller man looked at him defiantly and sat down.  “I’m not getting off this train!” he said.

The large man told the operator that he won’t leave, and she said it would be handled at the next stop.  The train began to move forward and I watched the small man sit in his seat, reading a small book out loud to himself.  He started praying and talking to himself about god.  The larger man stood staring at him, as if he was on guard.  Finally the small man looked up and started talking to the larger man.  It was hard to understand him, but I think he said something about being sorry.  The larger man replied something about his bike, to which the smaller man said, “Man, I have my own bike!”

We rolled to a stop at Gateway and a transit officer boarded.  “What seems to be the trouble?” he asked. The larger man had no qualms about making the smaller man out to be some kind of out of control rider.  The officer asked the smaller man for his ticket and photo ID.  The smaller man pulled his wallet out, and it was stuffed with cards, George Costanza style.  He pulled out an ID, and the officer said, “This is expired.  Please come with me, sir.”

The smaller man protested and said, “No, no I have another one,” and began rifling through his wallet for a piece of identification.  This is when I went from being amused to feeling sorry for him.  This wasn’t a drunk and disorderly jackass.  This was a drunk man who likely had mental health issues, and the larger man was the jackass who was blowing the event out of proportion.  The officer again asked him to get off the train.

“Come with me, man,” transit fuzz said.  The smaller man asked in a small voice, “Where we goin’?”  He stood up and slowly put his jacket on, then his backpack (attached to the bag was a small purple teddy bear) and he unhooked his bike from the rack and got off the train.

This time I took a closer look at what he was wearing.  His clothes were old and ill-fitting.  His bike was dirty.  The larger man stood there with a smug expression, and when the doors shut he took a seat.  As we pulled away, I watched the transit fuzz pull out his pad of tickets while the man continued to search through his wallet.

I wanted to walk over to the larger man and ask, “Are you proud of yourself?  Was all of this really necessary?”  But instead I just sat there, silently.  I hope the smaller man got to wherever he needed to go today, and I hope the larger man gets a big dose of karma.

Max Green Line, PM Commute

I missed my usual 4:35 train, and had to take the 4:53, which was absolutely packed.  I squeezed on board, and found a spot standing near the door.  I was tired.  It wasn’t that today was a long day, but rather, I just felt gross.  Have you ever had that kind of day?  Where you just feel so… blech?  My hair wasn’t doing anything, I was wearing a big oversized sweater, and I had dark circles under my eyes.  Despite getting what feels like enough solid sleep, I’ve been exhausted this week, and my eyes are showing the wear.

So I stood there, minding my own business, avoiding eye contact with anyone.  When the train arrived at Lloyd, three young men boarded and we all shuffled to make room.  I had about a foot of breathing space, with one of the young men right in front of me.  I was paying attention to my phone, but could hear snippets of his conversation.

“Yeah man,” the kid, likely between 18 and 21 years of age, said.  “So she came over and I totally fucked her.  And then she gave me an ounce of [something I couldn’t make out] and left.”  They all laughed, and one of the other boys said something I couldn’t hear, to which the kid in front of me said, “Haha, yeah.  You know I ruined all other men for her.”

I vomited a little in my mouth, and wanted to say, “Son, the only thing you probably ruined was her was the chance for a good time that night.”  But I kept my mouth shut.  As we hit each stop, we had to keep shuffling around just a bit, and he finally turned around and saw me behind him.  He must have not realized I was there because he looked a little surprised.  After that, he was much less boisterous to his buddies.

The train began to thin out after a few more stops, and finally at Flavel, the boys had reached their destination.  The train began to slow, and the kid in front of me turned around and looked at me.  Suddenly his body language and demeanor had changed.  “Please excuse me,” he said politely, as the doors opened.

Great.  He probably sees me as old enough to be his mother, and therefore feels the need to show respect.

I smiled politely and scooched over so he could walk off the train.  He was the last to leave, and just before he stepped onto the platform, he stopped and looked at me again.  “I just want to say that you are absolutely gorgeous,” he said, and stepped off.  My jaw dropped and I barely got a thank you out before the doors closed.

I stood there, stunned.  There I was, feeling so tired and gross, and this little punk who was just talking trash about some poor girl, just spoke to me like I was a lady.  I have no idea what he saw in me today, but it definitely put a smile on my face.

Today’s lessons:

Twice today I judged a book by it’s cover.  The small “drunk and disorderly jackass” on the train this morning turned out to be a man likely in need of mental health intervention.  The punk kid on the evening train who boasted to his buddies about his conquest is likely a polite young man when his friends aren’t around.  Today I was guilty of making snap judgements, which has been a bad habit of mine for some time.  I react before I think.  I need to start thinking more and reacting less.  We all have a story to tell.  We all have a chain of events in our past that have led us to where we are today: successes, failures, illness, divorce, abuse, poor decisions, good decisions, accidents, baggage, life, and death.

If we start looking past the exterior, we might be surprised with what we find underneath.  A life full of hopes and dreams.  A life that has weathered storms.  A life that is important and deserves respect.  A unique life with a story to tell that will be unlike anyone else’s.  And when you think about it, that’s really something, isn’t it?

Until next time ~ B

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