In the last several days, I have asserted that I am most definitely going to a certain ring of hell. Although I haven't combed through Dante's Inferno to assign myself the proper level, I'm sure it's further down than I would like. I consider myself to be a kind, thoughful person in most respects, but an outright bitch in others. My bitchiest tendencies are often illuminated on the train. The New York City transit system is basically a gathering of the most annoying people in all five boroughs, cramped together in a space that allows for inappropriate fondling and odors to be passed from coat to coat. Every one of my pet peeves is represented on the train. You have the trailer trash woman talking loudly on her cell phone from 1995, enunciating her words without the presence of teeth. There's also the Latina with the stereotypical hoop earrings that thinks she looks better than everyone else, while smacking her lips and chewing on gum so loud, that she wakes up the drunk bum on the opposite side of the train. And who can forget the construction worker, who is eating his entire McDonald's value meal on a packed train, while trying to talk to me over his boombox that has been outlawed since before I was born.
These are the characters that I encounter everyday. I've accepted my fate and so have many of my peers. Whenever something strange and unusual happens in our presence, we all know who's pheromones are to blame. Hormonally I just attract the crazies. I used to ask God why these things would happen to me, but now I know better. He just has a sense of humour. Usually I tolerate these weird occurrences, only retelling the more obscure ones to my gal pals. But in the last few days, I haven't been able to control my laughter, and thus my newfound relationship with Beelzebub.
For instance, two days ago, I was on the R train for one stop, and shit went down. I was having a really bad week and in dire need of a nap. I was heading south from Union Square on my way to work, when I heard a voice that startled me. It was a high pitch nasally voice that flooded the entire crowded train. It sounded like a gremlin, only slightly more menacing. I kept hearing the voice but I couldn't see from where it was originating. Finally after 30 seconds of waiting for its arrival, a dwarf (that's the politically correct term, right?) shoves his way between two foreigners and is asking for change. And then I start laughing. Now hold your horses. I'm not laughing because he was less than three feet tall. I'm laughing because his panhandling skills were so unique. He would stare down every (seated) passenger on the train and go "I need some money!". WHO DOES THAT? I mean c'mon, you would laugh too.
Now this money-grubbing dwarf wasn't nice at all which added to his gremlin appearance. So when he saw me trying to hide my case of the giggles, he looked right up at me, with the wart that protruded from the side of his face (I'm not making it up) and asked "What you're laughing at?" This of course made me laugh even harder. I couldn't control it; I wish I could, but the entire situation was too hilarious. A homeless dwarf demanding money from people on the train with the voice that could shatter glass was just too much for me to handle. And the even funnier thing is that several people on the train started giggling too. It was just too surreal for people to comprehend. Luckily for me, I arrived at my stop and was definitely in a better mood than when I started my day, even with the understanding that I would probably be sent to Azakaban for fucking with a goblin.
Today, I was enjoying my morning commute, reading my book (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, it's pretty good so far) and suddenly I heard a growl. That's right a growl. Another homeless man, with shaggy hair and a walker, boards the train and is growling. After my goblin incident, I decided to completely ignore this man and focus entirely on my novel. Apparently the homeless gent was not down with that because he began shouting obscenities that were directed at an invisible man who had wronged him at some point in his life. When I finally couldn't ignore him any longer, I look up and watched the homeless man completely lose his balance and bust his ass. At this moment I would like to say "Kudos" to me because I didn't fall out of my seat laughing hysterically. Instead I decided to help him off the floor, risking losing my place in my book, and hoisted him into a seat while clutching his walker.
I guess my act of generosity made him feel a little more comfortable because he started singing to me. He would break out into Al Green and The Temptations, but he only knew one line of every song so it sounded more like a NOW That's What I Call Soul compilation commercials. At this point I started laughing. Hysterically. Tears were streaming down my face. I couldn't control it. Of course he thought this was inappropriate so he yelled the lyrics to me to get me to settle down. Sorry buddy, that did not work. Finally I got off the train and realized that twice in one week, I had laughed at a homeless man.
I guess when life isn't what it's supposed to be, the only thing you can do is break out into the giggles. Life is hard on so many of us and we feel like curling up into a ball and dying. Job sucks, love life is non-existent, and your friends are being shady, but if you just take a ride on the subway, you might just find someone to brighten your day. Or rob you. Either way, you'll have a story to tell.