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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hey, I Like a Good Rule as Much as the Next Guy...

Like the bulk of us early-morning commuters, he gets on at the same place every day. He boards the bus, arms outstretched: one hand showing his ID, the other dropping coins into the meter. Based on the showing of said ID and the use of just a couple of coins, daily, I am under the impression that his ticket has been subsidized.

He is solidly middle-aged. Not fat, but not thin. He carries an umbrella. He reads over the top of his glasses, the lines in his face insinuating a life of disappointment.

He sits in the same seat every day, the forward-most, aisle-facing seat. If someone is already sitting there, he stands in front of them, clinging to a strap hanging from the ceiling. There can be 40 or more open seats available, but he will not sit in one of them.

Those are not his seats.

His seat is the first seat. The one in the front.

I run into him downtown one day, blocks away from our normal route. The streets are busy, but the sidewalks are wide and clear. The sky seems higher than usual, the color a thin, light blue. Caught in the delicate time between fashion boots and winter boots, it is the kind of day that makes noticing just how beautiful it is, easy.

I smile at him in recognition. “Lovely day, isn’t it?”

He doesn’t answer. Instead, his face twisting with hatred and righteousness, he shoots past me, rushes toward a young man on a bike.

“There’s no riding your bike on the sidewalk! It’s against the law! There’s no riding on the sidewalk!”

The guy on the bike swerves to avoid him. “Hey!” he says. “Look out!”

“There are rules!”

The guy on the bike speeds away, looking back just once in a mixture of fright and anger.

Front of the Bus Man turns to me in anger. “I should kick him! I should jam my umbrella into his wheels so that he falls on his face and breaks his teeth in the street!”

I wince. “That seems a little harsh,” I say.

“Oh, really?” he says. “So you think anarchy is the answer, is that it? You want martial law? You think you can handle that?”

And with that, he thrusts his chest towards me, a mock-charging gesture that sends me backward several steps.

I walk away, go up the bus line a couple blocks. People like this, I don’t want to know.


There are people that we see often enough to know them on sight: the woman whose cotton-candy-colored hair never varies in its retention of two-three inches of black roots; the two immigrant women with their shiny blue-black ponytails and Hello Kitty backpacks; and the man who won’t sit anywhere but in that one, magical seat.

But just because we know what they look like doesn’t mean we know them.

19 comments:

Shelly said...

You should start taking his seat everyday. Shake things up a little- might do him some good.

Delores said...

Life has made him a bitter, angry man and he is now willing to spread the misery. It's too bad. At some point in time it probably wasn't too late to be of some help to him. It is now I fear.

vanilla said...

"But just because we know what they look like doesn’t mean we know them."

or, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

vanilla said...

"But just because we know what they look like doesn’t mean we know them."

or, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

Should Fish More said...

So many things it could be, somewhere on the Obsessive/Compulsive scale, probably not on the autism spectrum, they don't tend to the agressive behaviour. Or something else.
People watching is fun, 'til it ain't.

joeh said...

He's gotta get home to watch Judge Wapner, yeah Judge Wapner starts at 4:00 yeah, gotta see Judge Wapner.

More great life observations from Pearl.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
One upon whom the smile-offensive was taken as exactly that. No accounting for some folks. Discretion = valour and all that... Others are more deserving of you Pearl. YAM xx

Daisy said...

sad little man, spreading his poison. I stay away from toxic people. Come here instead to enjoy life!

Jocelyn said...

Well, y'know, he was right. Bikes are supposed to be on the street. You some left-leaning liberal or something?

Oh, and EEEEEEK--random aggression is more breath-taking than anything.

jenny_o said...

Scary encounter. Keep an eye on him, for your own self-preservation.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

Yikers, Pearlie. Stay away from him!!

Lin said...

Just 'cuz they may look sane doesn't mean it is so. Mental illness is easily masked. Stay far, far away.

Linda O'Connell said...

Watch out for that guy's umbrella. The man has mental health issues.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Well written but scary, Pearl. Take care of yourself.

River said...

Random aggression; I had my own scary encounter several weeks ago. I won't be stepping in to help a stranger again any time soon.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Some rules are good some are bloody stupid just saying

Daisy said...

What an angry, miserable man. So scary. Take care, Pearl.

Anne said...

Oh, that was repulsive. Best not to get in his path.

savannah said...

THAT was scary, sweet pea! *shiver* xoxoxox