I usually turn on my blinders when I get onto the subway. I love people watching, but I don’t have the energy to pay attention to every person who does something weird on the train. Also, most people are the train are just trying to get from point a to point b without drawing attention to themselves. But every so often, there’s a person I can’t ignore. Here are the stories of my three most entertaining subway encounters.
I was on the L train reading an issue of Wired, and that month’s “How To” page was about making fireworks and escaping cougars. I felt the guy sitting next to me reading over my shoulder. I was about to angle the magazine so he couldn’t see it when he said,
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but what are you reading? What’s that about making fireworks?”
“I haven’t read that one yet,” I said. “But did you know that if you’re being chased by a cougar that running away is your best bet?”
He laughed and nudged his wife, “Hey Honey, if we’re ever attacked by a cougar, did you know we just have to outrun it?”
“No,” she said. “I just have to outrun you.”
Baby Iron Man
A little boy, around age two, was loaded in his stroller, while wearing pieces of his Iron Man costume. He kept trying to take off his mask but his mom said, “Oh no Iron Man! You to wear your mask! There’s a fire! You gotta put the fire out!” She restrapped the plastic Iron Man arm onto his, and Baby Iron Man pointed his mechanical finger at the imaginary fire and made a water sound. His mom cheered for him. As they were getting off the train, I said “Thanks for putting out the fire, buddy.” After prodding from his mom, he said “You’re welcome,” and waved to me. Then I felt a little bit bad; “Buddy” is kind of a condescending nickname for a super hero.
I was sitting next to the window on the G train, in one of the benches that are horizontal in the train car. In the bench against the wall of the car was a middle aged guy with a long gray ponytail and a bandanna across his forehead. He kept leaning forward with his entire torso, so his head almost touched the floor. Then he’d bob back up suddenly. I could see a tiny bottle of liquor, either whiskey or tequila, tucked into the inner pocket of his leather jacket. After leaning forward and bobbing back up a few times, he reached into his pockets and pulled out two switchblades, extended the blades and held one in each hand as continued to bob up and down. I was really happy to see my stop after 30 seconds of this.
photo from commons.wikimedia.org