Every morning I take the train to work in lower Manhattan from Far Rockaway, New York and back home again in the evening. Along with a multitude of fellow commuters, I ride the underground transit system (affectionately know as ‘the subway”) for a total of three hours round trip. That’s a long time to observe the parade of weirdos entering and exiting the train.
Riding the subway for as long as I do, it’s easy to become familiar with my fellow passenger’s quirks and foibles – even assigning them made up names to go with their peccadilloes. And let me tell you – people are strange!
Far Rockaway is where the commute originates so I’m always guaranteed a seat. A couple I call Marge and Homer gets on the same train as me. I have determined from their heated conversations that they have been engaged for about six years. Marge is ready to get married; Homer’s not. She talks about her biological clock; he talks about nothing but his upcoming promotion at work. Then Marge reminds Homer he’s been saying the same thing for five years now and their discussion becomes more heated with every chug of the subway.
First stop: enter Malodorous Man. This guy is always guaranteed a seat in the corner all by himself. The fact that he desperately needs a shower would be enough to keep people away but he also brings his breakfast on the train – a raw onion which he peels and eats with gusto as one would an apple.
At our next stop Mr. Obsessive gets on. He immediately takes out a can of disinfectant and sprays it in the direction of Malodorous Man who indignantly shouts “Hey, I’m eatin’ here!”.
Mr. Obsessive goes to HIS seat (where no one else dares sit because everyone knows it’s HIS seat), cleans it and begins his routine. First he unties his shoe laces making sure they are of equal length. Satisfied that they are, he reties his laces, then adjusts his socks so they reach the exact same height on both legs. He smooths his trousers, unbuttons and re-buttons his jacket, aligns the amount of shirt cuff visible from his jacket sleeves, straightens his tie and adjusts his hat repeatedly. Finally all is well in OCD Land.
At stop number three Malodorous Man departs and the Tattoo Twins get on, a teenage boy and girl covered from the neck down with multicolored tattoos. They lean against the door and start making out while Mr. Obsessive huffs in disapproval.
Totally out of character Marge suddenly declares to Homer that she’s “had enough” and moves to another seat next to Bob the Builder, a good-looking construction worker. Homer’s not happy about this; perhaps he’s noticed the same thing I have: whenever Bob the Builder enters the train he winks at Marge and pats his impressive tool belt. Bob and Marge begin a quiet conversation while Homer fumes.
Next stop and Mr. Obsessive fearfully sidles, past the Tattoo Twins who reach out and knock his perfect hat right off his head. Shocked by this unnecessary assault, Mr. Obsessive stares at the now unwearable hat, sniffs in disdain and scurries off the train.
Impulsively, a jilted Homer jumps up and punches Tattoo Boy in the nose who retaliates by shoving Homer backwards on his ass. A few passengers give Homer a thumbs up. Somewhat embarrassed yet proud of himself, Homer glances over at Marge for her approval. She, however, is too involved with Bob the Builder to notice. Homer tells Marge “it’s our stop” but she shakes her head and snuggles closer to Bob. Homer huffs off and looks back just as Marge fondles the tip of Bob’s hammer.
Welcome to the daily subway sideshow where everyone is strange except me – or am I?
NAR © 2019