Posts Tagged ‘subway’

So, I’m heading home on the subway at crush, er, rush hour. The only thing that is less fun … is a root canal. But it’s fast, and I’m lazy and my only other alternatives are an expensive cab ride, which will crawl through traffic at 5:15 PM (kind of like a snail on downers) or an equally packed bus (faster than a snail, but not much). Oh, all right, I coulda walked. Yeah, right. I just worked nine hours at a crappy job and I am soooooo dying to walk 30 blocks to get home – not! Plus, I’m on an express train, so I’m looking at maybe 15 minutes of this mass mush.

So, as I mentioned, I’m on a packed subway. I’ve managed to wrap a few fingers of my right hand around a pole, but the other hand, my entire arm in fact, is smooshed against my side, gripping my purse in this crush of humanity. Why do I like living here again? Oh, yeah, something about the diversity of people – most of which seem to be crammed into the same subway car as me.

I notice a guy near the door staring intently. At me. Do I have dirt on my face? Is my lipstick smeared? (I now wear stay-put lipstick, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog in itself.) I’m a subway savvy New Yorker – I know you don’t stare back. You just don’t. So, I turn my head as best I can in this situation, and gaze at the frayed split ends of the brunette woman next to me, and the ketchup stain on the tie of a guy in an ugly brown suit. And, inevitably, my eyes cut back to Mr. Stare Happy.

He has a fold-up table under his arm and a huge opaque black trash bag at his feet. Oh. He’s a street vender, heading home, just like me. Except he probably spent all day outside on his feet next to his table of wares on some street corner in midtown.

Whereas, crappy job aside, I had a comfy chair to stick my butt in all day. OK, so maybe he isn’t a nut job or a would-be stalker. Though dealing with the public all day is enough to drive anyone over the edge. (Yet, another blog for a later date.) Whatever … I wish he’d stop starting at me so intently.

I watch the stations whiz by and realize my stop is just moments away. Mr. Stare Happy, still drilling me with his gaze, stands next to the doors. The exit doors. The doors that I will have to walk through, past this creepy guy, to get off this dang train.

I’m thinking of “like a deer caught in headlights” and the way rabbits freeze when they know prey is near, hoping they won’t be noticed. Well, I’m not Bambi or a fluffy bunny. I don’t scare easily. I will not be intimidated!

But my heart is really starting to pound as I see the train is approaching my station. I won’t use the cliché of my heart “leaping out of my throat,” but have you see the movie “Alien”? Well, my heart feels like one of those critters about to claw its way outta my chest. OK – dammit – I’m scared. Me. The loudmouth tough broad, frightened by some squirrelly weirdo who may want to do … something to me.

I could stay on the train for several more stops till the train is less full and I can get further away from him. I’m calculating the next stop and how far away that is from where I really need to be.

Screw that! Crappy job equals cranky gal, and I want a soothing glass of wine within the next few minutes, not a half hour from now. Ya know, assuming this guy isn’t knife happy in addition to stare happy.

I tell myself I’m overreacting.

The car slows, the bells dings, and the subway doors open. A whole bunch of people ahead of me will have to leave or move for me to get out. And, just my luck, Mr. Stare Happy isn’t one of them. I take a deep breath, putting what I hope is a determined, you-better-not-even-think-of-messing-with-me look on my face, and shoulder my way to the exit.

I can barely breath – I’m just trying to keep the alien critter behind my rib cage from bursting through my chest wall and staining my really pretty blouse. And, of course, I’m trying to scoot as far away as possible from Mr. Stare Happy as I exit.

He moves toward me.

I turn my head away from him. I won’t acknowledge the freak. Just let me get safely off this train.

I pass him and manage to get one foot safely on the station platform.

He lunges at me!

He grabs my hand and shoves something into it. I twist away from him and stumble onto the platform.

I turn around, staring back at him, shocked. The doors close. He presses his face against the glass, still staring intently, but with a slight curve of a smile to his lips.

No, no, no, no, no! What the hell did he just shove into my hand? I don’t want to look.

I have to look.

My fingers are curled reflexively around something soft; dark green material peeks through my clenched fist.

Did he just shove his snotty handkerchief into my hand? Do men even use handkerchiefs anymore?

I really, really don’t want to look, but, of course, I have to. I slowly uncurl my fingers to reveal a folded square of green material, silky and beautiful. It looks pristine. New.

I unfold it slowly.

It is indeed pristine. And new. And not a trace of snot. And the most beautiful shade of emerald green. And it feels silky because it is silk – the tag says so.

Holy crap. It’s a lovely scarf. It’s … a gift.

What the hell?

Mr. Stare Happy must sell scarves.

Maybe he doesn’t speak English. Maybe he’s shy around women. Maybe he is just a weirdo – yeah, probably is. But for whatever reason, he stared at me and decided I had to have something beautiful that only he could give me at that moment. Maybe he recognized the look of another human who worked a crappy job and needed some cheering up.

No one’s ever given me a silk scarf before. I love it! Of course, the guy could have found a slightly less terrifying way to bestow it upon me.

I tie the soft material around my neck and remove a hand mirror from my purse. It looks fantastic with my coloring. I pat the scarf in place, a relieved and happy smile on my face, and I wonder if the scarf vender does this on a regular basis.

I’ll probably never know.

I head home, still wanting that glass of wine, but now in a slightly better mood.