There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Commuter Tales

Look, I swear that the most interesting thing going on in my life is NOT my work commute, but I intentionally try to keep this blog from being too personal, which certainly precludes discussing things like work itself and, to some extent, limits my discussion of certain endeavors to vaguish descriptions. Another limiting factor is that I hate repeating stories so even if people I have told them to are not reading this blog, well, it still feels as if I'm repeating myself. But before some griping (it's been a while since I've used that lovely word), I'm going to throw out a link to Rolling Stone's cover story on John McCain. It's a long article, but worth the read in my opinion. I feel as if I don't even know what truth ever is with a lot of people, especially politicians, and while there may be bias in this article — it is OpEd after all — I have a feeling it's an awful lot closer to the truth than "McCain the hero" and "McCain the straight shooter" and all the other positive post-its tacked onto the man. The thing about post-its, after all, is that the sticky wears off.

So, originally I planned for this to be about commuting, but I'm losing steam on that front. I have a feeling this is going to quickly devolve into a Seinfeld-esque "what's the deal with ______." One thing you've got is the general breakdown of people you see on the train and their weak-ass attempts to have no one sit next to them. The first line of defense is always to place their bag on the empty seat. This is basic, and is generally accompanied by any number of slightly more advanced tactics which include the following:

1. listening to an iPod. Somehow, when the ears are occupied, the listener is also unable to see people that wish to sit down.
2. the multitasker. Not only will a bag be on the seat, but a laptop will often be on the lap and, for good measure, a couple of documents, and maybe even a Blackberry will be out, to make it appear as if they would be too busy to move their things.
3. the fake napper. Sure, I can be a bit tired when I step on the train in the morning and, more frequently, in the evening, but if I was able to make it to the train, chances are I can stay awake an additional three to five minutes. This tactic is also employed by passengers attempting to avoid paying their fare. In addition, this can sometimes be executed in conjunction with an iPod (or other media device) as an extra layer of defense.
4. the blank and/or "through you" stare. These individuals are seemingly so in their own world they can't conceive of other passengers being on the train, let alone sitting next to them. Again, this is often used in conjunction with another of the defense methods, with the stare often situated out the window.

As I said, this is a fairly basic synopsis and characterization of these types. To counteract them, I generally try to sit next to an individual who seems most opposed to my sitting next to them. This is enhanced further when I have walked quickly to the train, causing a rise in temperature in my body, the response action of which is to remove my outer layer and reveal, on most days, a wife-beater undergarment. Just this past Saturday, I found my train back to Jersey delayed and, as a result, even more people than usual had crowded around to be seated on the train.

I sat down next to a young Indian girl probably around my age (does it matter than she is Indian, not really, but by my adding that descriptor I may or may not be telling you something about me) who happened to be on a cell phone. I noticed her look over at me a few times and something was telling me that it wasn't because she thought I was incredibly handsome. The whole time she was either in conversation or dialing up someone with whom to be in conversation. Soon she not only started looking over at me, she was looking all around, as if she was feeling a form of clostraphobia, that she was trapped and needed to get out. Rather than making me nervous of course, it really just pissed me off and I was, as always, on the verge of telling her, "What the fuck are you looking for? And why don't you get off your phone and shut the fuck up?" As always I say because, when you call out people on their social improprieties, you generally commit one yourself. As I relayed this story the other day, I noted I am considering post-it notes that I leave as casual reminders to these people for the wrongs I feel they have committed (marking my second post-it reference this entry).

In unrelated news, I watched episodes two through four of that new HBO vampire series Tru Blood. Given shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the success of that new Twilight series of books, not to mention the many incarnations of Dracula, one could conclude that a lot of people find vampires pretty interesting. I fall into this category, which includes my love of the Castlevania series of games. Point being, I think Tru Blood is great. Sure, Anna Paquin's accent and acting are awful, and there are many other unintentionally funny bits to the show, but between the laughs, intended and otherwise, and the the fact that it deals with vampires — sexy vampires no less — makes it a fun watch. Don't bring the kids though.

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