Peter Writes About People On The Train
Peter Tatara - December 21, 2008
I worked late at the office today. When I work late, I have to take a crowded train home. At the end of a typical day, I get a seat to myself, an empty seat to place my backpack, and enough peace and quiet to pass out, but when I work late, I'm lucky if I can find an empty corner on the train to squeeze into. No, that's not true. There's always a half-empty cabin or two with a leaky toilet, perfuming the air with the magic spice that is old urine and splattered feces. I spent a single commute home in one of those cars. I'll never do it again. I'm amazed, though, that there are people who'll park themselves outside of an out-of-service toilet and spend 90 minutes with its vinegar drilling into their nostrils without complaint. Not me. Not ever again. Not when a conductor doesn't even trek inside the cabin to collect tickets.
So, where am I today? At the front of every cabin, there are always a few half-ass, half-sized seats facing backwards. They're designed for larger groups, so four friends can all sit face-to-face and have a delightful ride home discussing where they find happiness ever since the wit of Gilmore Girls left the airwaves. I, however, am traveling alone and am now a few inches from a couple who are majorly creeping me out.
They both have giant glasses on. You know the kind, the enormous, coked-up rockstar, hasn't-worked-a-day-in-her-life heiress, spacebug goggles that eat up a third of your face. I can't see their eyes, and I think they're both looking at me. The woman's also eating something with a complete, mind-numbing lack of interest. The deadpan way she brings the fork in and out of her mouth is disturbing. It's a mechanical act without emotion. The dude's got a hole in his jeans too close to his crotch for comfort. Whenever the train hits a bump, I think I'm going to see his junk. He's got a hat with the word "Beer" finely embroidered across its front and a shadow that I think is a mustache across his upper lip.
The mechanical lady and the dude with the pencil-thin mustache aren't saying or doing anything really, but I want to get up. Is it them? Or maybe it's the fact that I'm secretly jealous of anyone who can pull off spacebug glasses so effortlessly. I really want a pair because, at least in my opinion, wearing them gives you license to be an asshole. And I want that license bad. The problem is I can't ever find a pair that fits my head. I've been to shops in New York, Boston, LA, and Baltimore looking for some, and every pair I try on sits sad and lopsided, leaning listlessly to the left because of some nonsense with my ears not being even. That's not true. Well, the part about the ears is, but the fact that I haven't found any pairs that fit my face is a lie. I found a pair -- a single pair -- at a CVS in Baltimore. But they were in the ladies section, and my girlfriend said they were really, really, really, really gay. I didn't care and would have still bought them, but I didn't have any cash at the time.
I wonder what the couple across from me is thinking. I can't believe they bought matching glasses. Wait. Wait.
Oh, thank God! They just left. They got off at a town called Rye. Now it's just me and some open chairs. Or, not. Two more folks sat down. One's an attractively nerdy guy playing chess on an iPhone. The other a woman talking loudly to someone on a BlackBerry. She calls herself "Julie Jones." That's a nice name. That's a song of a name. I like iPhone guy and Julie Jones.
There is, though, a fat woman with a sinister smile sitting across the aisle. She's eating an apple, cupping it with both hands, and staring blindly forward with the most intense eyes. I think she's a murderer.