One more UBT for you all… may not have so many of these anymore, as I’ve finally broken down and decided to get a car. That is, if this gig ever ends. I was supposed to be on for 2 weeks — it’s been 2 and a half months now. Still, this is supposed to be the last week.
Anyways, last week, on the way to see my girlfriend, I was standing on a packed train, by the door, since I was only going to be on for a few stops.
After standing there for a minute or two, I feel something touch my hand, and, assuming I must’ve bumped into someone, move my hand up the pole. Then I look down. Here is what I see:
Crusty fingernails, yellow in the middle, growing a deep green with grunge around the edges. Blotchy skin, marred with bruises, dirt, and the occasional congealed wound. Magic circle tattoos with a vague wiccan feel on the back of cracked palms. Dirty white undershirt, underneath a graying t-shirt, underneath a blue-gray hoodie, the inside front of which is still wet from its secondary (primary?) usage as a handkerchief. And a very, very ill middle-aged woman.
Rubbing her pinky against the back of my palm.
The first line of defense against crazy people (and as I soon figured out, this lady was nuts) was to not establish eye contact. You have no idea what this may signal to the mentally deranged. So throughout all this, I keep my headphones on (the ear on other side of her off, so I could be alert), looking straight forward, ignoring the woman. I make out the following through my peripheral vision and reflections in the glass.
First, I could make out mumbling. She was definitely not speaking english, nor any language I know of, although she was very much caucasian. Next she starts flailing her arms around in front of her, which I interpret to be her casting some sort of magic spell.
This is punctuated by horrific wet coughing into the aforementioned handkerchief.
After this, and mumbling about how some guy didn’t love her, she gets up and starts swinging (stumbling) around on a pole. Eventually, she swings forward, looking straight at me, mumbling about fucking and not loving her and treating her like shit and whatnot.
She swings forward some more.
Almost completely in my line of view.
Nearby mothers usher their children away. Some frat boy at the other end of the train watches, laughing. A heavily-accented Pakistani man looks on, befuddled. Two men knee-deep in an involved conversation stop talking, instead following what is going on right in front of my nose.
And I stare ahead. Ignoring her.
I am buddha. I am the calm center of the universe.
Eventually, she swings back, sitting in her chair, looking at me, I am sure, with googly eyes.
When I reach my stop and get off, I spy her in the reflection.
She is making kissy faces at me.
That night, my girlfriend would not give me a hug until I washed my hands. A lot. I don’t blame her.