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Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Blues

I seem to have become a magnetic north pole for a various array of unsual people. They navigate towards me, like (excuse the cliche) moth to a flame. I have also noticed on holidays when people leave Manhattan, the city is empty. That empty space is usually somewhat replaced by out-of-towners. People who walk slow and somehow think it is acceptable to walk around in regimental 4 person wide formation.

Yesterday was an incident on the subway platform. A short, pudgy man slides in front on me, on the crowded platform at Roosevelt Ave. He grabs the edge of the Amazing Spider-Man issue I am reading (#567) and lifts. I stare and then reply boldly "What do you think you're doing?? You DO NOT just grab that. It's not yours." He quickly releases and replies "I'm sorry." He scurries back through the crowd. I ominously track him. He stops and again replies "I'm sorry." , looking incredibly frazzled.

Then on this quiet day when Hurricane Gustav strikes, I experienced deja vu of previous encounters. The incident at Western Beef and the never-before-mentioned trip to an island off the coast of Connecticut-birthday-celebration and adventure back on the weekend of July 19th. It all started at 42nd street on a 7 train on my way to Sheffield Island off the coast of South Norwalk.....

Waiting to leave. The man sitting next to me shows me his bag. It appears to be a sword with a helmed skull hilt (blade part covered in cardboard). He asks me if I collect, pointing and gesturing to his bag. My gonzo response is "I want nothing." Slightly confused, he then proceeds to engage the lady on his other side. He offers the item in the bag for $15. She is confused by his inquiry. One can sense the overall confusion in the air.  I guess he then feels a physical demonstration would "cut" through the confusion and would better suit the attempted sale. He unsheathes the blade and in front of the mostly out-of-town crowd, waves around the 4-foot blade. "Fifteen dollar!" he exclaims several times.

After a few moments of awkward silence and all the nearby out-of-town passenges looking visibly flustered and uneasy, he turns back to me and queries me : "Fifteen dollar?" I thank him, but explain I do not have room in my bag. More silence. He then asks me for the time. More silence. He then pulls out a blue card, turns to me and mumbles something. I ask for clarification. I never got exactly what he was trying to tell me, but I extrapolated : he had pulled out his MTA disabled card with photo. He said his face, pointing to the photo of himself on the identification, didn't like me. He then asked me if he should kill it? At this point I don't know if he was referring to me, himself or the identification.  He then points to the top of his head (he is wearing a ragged straw cowboy had), actualy tapping it  and says "I am not right in the head, NO?"

I encourage him to think positive thoughts and not do harm to anyone, especially himself, but that I had to depart the subway. It was my stop. We had arrived at Grand Central and I was relieved. The Metro-North ride to South Norwalk should be a piece of cake from now on.
One ride to hell later..... 

The first car I get to is blowing out heat,  on a blistering 95 degree July day. All the remaing cars are packed (sardines are packed more comfortably). It is stainding room only, unless of course, you sit inside the heated car. 

I stand next to a guy whining the whole time and making statements like : "I'll pay someone for their seat." On the other side of me is a heavy woman with tatooed eyebrows and a right bicep tatoo proudly proclaiming : #1 granddaughter.  In front of me (and literally on top of me) are the two most boring 40 year old frat boy douches. The kind of men that give validate fraternity stereotypes. I eventually arrive, but drained by my ordeals. 

The island was nice and the celebration went as planned. The frosting for me were the mosquito bites. Who says you can't have it all. Til my next random encounter.....


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