Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Day I Got Accosted on the A Train

It was bound to happen eventually. I got accosted on the subway today by this big, lumbering guy who was not 100% with his senses. Meth, crack, or some other unfortunate issue plagued him and somehow made him into the world's friendliest weirdo.

With iPhone playing, headphones on and a wicked game of Scrabble going I was happy in my own little world. And then he climbed on board at 59th Street. Somehow I sensed his presence. I looked up to see this person, who, except for his lack of age, could have been the third Fratelli from Goonies.

He started pestering some guy down the car, pushing the man's newspaper with one huge finger so he could see his face and asking him, "How you doin' man?" This perturbed man looked up to acknowledge this annoyance and then went back to his paper. The lumbering giant pressed on, "How you doin' man? Huh? How you doin'?" Shut up and sit down, was all I could think. That and please don't come down here to me. Please, oh please, oh... oh crap!

I was dreading it. I could tell he was coming my way... but I kept my head down (like a good New Yorker) and prayed that he'd miss me. I imagined he was a T-Rex and I used what I learned from Jurassic Park to try and save myself. Stay still... if you don't move he can't see you.

Jurassic Park worked! He skipped me and found the quirky art student seated catty-cornered to me. I was twelve kinds of grateful and continued listening to my podcast, playing Scrabble by myself, when suddenly... there was a tap tap tapping at my chamber door (or in this case my shoulder)

I tried to ignore him. I thought, Be polite and pretend you don't notice. It's better than being outright rude! But the tapping persisted. After the tapping became thumping I turned, headphones still on, and glared. Not an evil glare... just a "What?" glare. He gave me a big dumb smile and asked "How you doin' man?" The smile meant he meant no harm... or that's what my Southern upbringing told me. But still, I've been in NYC long enough to question any stranger's intentions. I nodded (the Southern "hello" you give to strangers as you pass by one another) and he continued. I then waved him away... very official-like. But he kept it up. And when I started ignoring him he actually grabbed my arm and pulled at me asking, "I said 'How you doin'?" I glared again - this is after all the international sign of Leave Me the Hell Alone. For a moment I was Teen Wolf demanding "a keg of beer"... eye blazing, guttural growl and all.

The giant backed off... finally. The whole car seemed to be aware that he was now done. At 125th Street he departed, fumbling his way out off the train and into the dreary, green-tinted station.

Once he was gone I wondered was I too harsh? Could I have been nicer? Could I have said, "I'm fine and you?" But that prompts further conversation and my pesky social anxiety was not going to have that. So, goodbye to you giant. Please do not touch me on the train next time. A simple nod of acknowledgment will do in the future.

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