5.08.2013

Train

I'm stealing a line from Forest: Marta is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Actually, that's not entirely true, because its very likely you will be delayed some variable amount of time, and you may as well count on that. But besides that, well, Marta is a quite a temperamental beast. 

Many people put in headphones and shut out the world, and who can blame them? The train is a little bleak. But I like to look around, observing the faces. I have classified the people I see into two groups: those that ride the same train every day, as I do, and the one-offs, perhaps making a trip to the airport or wherever. For the regulars, I attribute clever names and memorize where they sit (or at least the area in which they prefer to occupy). I can't really help it; I just catch on to all these things.

On the way up to the Ellis Street exit there is some signage for a hair salon. The woman featured is wearing a rather revealing outfit. I do not like this woman. Although not an actual human, I have named her Janet, and I say good morning to her. 

But on the train are strange little happenings, vignettes, if you will. Tiny conflicts upon which tiny climaxes reside, forcing themselves into tiny resolution by the next train stop. You have to look for them sometimes, but they are there. 

Today, I got to talking to someone who had gone to my high school, and hated it. He said it was full of preppy hypocrites. He was mostly right. I went to an expensive private christian school that was such a mishmash of the modern flavors of Christianity that I'm sure half the faculty looked like they had no backbone. I also owe it to the school, however, because this was where I did much weeding out of theology that did not stand up to my scrutiny. For the most part, I rejected the flavor of "popular Christianity" that thrived there. It was this contrast to what I believed that made me more stubborn in my faith, so I suppose I owe something to that. I definitely didn't hate the place as much as this kid did. 

I felt a little bad, as though I needed to apologize for the hypocritical teachers and flippant theology. I don't blame him at all. I suppose once some of those kids get off on their own they will undergo a sort of spiritual hemorrhaging and the roots will get stripped out. It was an odd feeling, at any rate. 

Last week I saw an extremely old man trying to get off the train and struggling to stand up. I put forth my hand just as he finally uprighted himself. It took a good ten seconds to finally communicate that I was just offering some help in getting up. After finally understanding my intentions, he said "you're a good man," and labored off the train. That caught me off guard a bit. There was something in the way he said it that was strange. I thought perhaps "thanks" or "I'm good now!" but he selected these words and uttered them with an almost resigned finality.

I also am beginning to suspect one regular might be an angel or a delusion or something. I saw her again out of the corner of my eye today as I said "good morning, Janet." I think she is either imaginary or a celestial being because she never interacts with anyone, ever. She does not talk to or look at anyone! And I mean, for a month straight. She catches the same southbound and northbound as me. It is quite strange. 

And then on Fridays there's this evangelist who preaches. Its never the Jonathan Edwards you're gonna burn stuff, but he gets close sometimes. This guy wears me out more than anything. All the people on the train collectively avert their gaze to the windows and turn up the music in their ears. Those unfortunate enough to not own headphones just bow their heads. I wanted to ask the guy if he really thought Jesus wanted him to say the stuff he was saying and that the people on this train are so worn already and that I think his best testimony would be how he loves people and God. Everything he says makes me so sad.

Maybe next Friday. There are many tiny stories to live on the train before then. So I turn up my music, too.