Being a writer has advantages. One is that you can take an awkward situation, and use words to make it more positive. In this post, I’m able to relieve some of the tension of a really wierd subway ride.
It’s pretty hot outside today, but some people are hot under the proverbial collar, all the time. I expect a bit of swagger from young people who think they are “all that,” but I wasn’t expecting it from a woman old enough to be my grandmother’s grandmother!
Here’s how it went:
My feet hurt. There was an open seat on the one bench on the downtown platform at 42nd Street. I sunk into it, gratefully. The woman on my right didn’t pay any attention, but the woman on my left was taking up two seats and didn’t want me to inconvenience her by making her move her packages off the second seat. I began to sit down, and she did move them, but with a sneer. So, she was pissed she had to lift a pinky and move her packages off a seat meant for people. I still didn’t think much of it, or her (although I noticed that “Granny” was wearing an inappropriately warm fleece jacket, while I was perspiring, in a cotton blouse). Old people do seem to feel cold more often, so I chalked it up to that.
The train raced into the station. We stood up. Most regular subway riders know that when the train car door opens, it’s customary to step to the side so the passengers inside, can exit. Apparently the old woman didn’t think that rule applied to her. She stood directly in front of the doors, effectively blocking the exit and the entrance. As she swaggered into the train (as if she owned the subway system), the woman next to me gave me a quizzical, “what the f…? look.” I should have done nothing, but what I did, instead was say: “that is so rude!”
Old woman must have had extra-special hearing. She knew I was talking about her. She was already upset that she had to move her package from the bargain store off the seat meant for passengers, not packages. She whirled around with anger, yelling: Who you callin’ rude?!” she screamed. “I aint rude. You the rude one! You the rude one!”
Oh Geez! I knew this wasn’t going to be a good trip. But I know better than to provoke someone who is already yelling in a public subway, so I simply sat down and looked for my Palm Pilot in my purse. Apparently, the old woman wasn’t going to let me get off lightly for my “slight.” Granny sat opposite me. I knew she was there, but I tried to keep occupied and avoid eye contact. Finally, I couldn’t help but look up. The crone’s eyes were locked on my face–I guess she had been staring at me while I was staring at Scrabble on my Palm. “Don’t you be lookin at me!” She screamed. Knowing the best thing to do was ignore her, I continued playing Scrabble on my Palm Pilot. When I finally looked up again she was still glaring and staring at me “You the rude one! You the rude one! You the rude one!” she yelled.
It was obvious that granny wasn’t wound too tight, or she was angry at something else and I was an easy target, but she wanted a fight, and I didn’t want to give her one. If you have any sense (at least a few marbles and a small grip on reality) you let things go in the train. “Please stop.” I said rather lamely, since it was the only thing I could think of.
The old woman’s nostrils were flaring in hostility, in-out, in-out, in-out (sort of like a buffalo culled from the herd and ready to confront it’s attackers). Apparently, my words were “fightn’ quality” to granny, becuase when I looked up again, she was out of her seat and standing in front of me. She might have looked like a church-going grandmother, but then again, like the “fake” firefighter” Peter Braunstein, didn’t look all that crazy until he decided to snap, dress up on Halloween, and sexually assualt a woman in her own apartment. There are very angry people with a chip on their proverbial shoulders walking freely among us all the time. Granny was apparently one of them, and she wasn’t going to let me have a safe or quiet ride home. I couldn’t imagine what she palnned to do next, with her glaring nostrils (in-out, in-out, in-out) and her hands on her hip. Was she going to bash me with the Geritol bottle hidden in her purse? Everyone around me was pretending not to notice. “You are a reasonable adult,” I said in my best, “we are adults, let’s just calm down and I’m not going to be intimidated by an elderly nut” voice. “please sit down!” I added for emphasis (with more courage that I really felt).
Amazingly, she did sit. I felt this had exceeded my comfort level, so I decided to change cars at the next stop. The next stop, of course, was a long one. As I waited for the train to get there, I noticed granny had something in her hand. It was a cell phone. Yes, now this crazy crone was was taking pictures of me! It is illegal to take photos in the train, but who was going to mention this? Instead, I blocked my face from her camera lens with my Palm Pilot (the only thing in my hand) “Don’t be blockin yo face from me” yelled granny. I couldn’t imagine why this she taking photos of me, but if you see a doll with pins in it that looks like Advice Sister Alison, you’ll know who made it.
I could handle the yelling, but the photo session creeped me out! The minute the doors open, I went to the next car, sat down, and thought the rest of my trip home would be tension-free.
But that wasn’t going to happen. As Murphy’s Law dictates, when things go badly, they tend to get even worse. Halfway to the next stop, the conductor announced that the train was going out of service. That meant “nutty granny” and I were going to on the same platform.
I wondered if she’d try to push me on the tracks, take more photos, put a curse on me, or something worse that I hadn’t thought of yet. I didn’t want to take any chances butting heads (or anything else) with “crazy crone,” so I positioned myself near pole and a bunch of other people, and hoped the train would come quickly. It did, and I got on, grateful to be away from “crone-behaving-badly.” As the train pulled out of the station, I saw this crone-behaving badly, her eyes still glaring right at me through the window, her nostrils still flaring: in-out, in-out, in-out.