10. The Not Me – most people you encounter on public transit are of “The Not Me” variety. They do not want to have anything to do with you. In fact, someone could be bleeding on the floor below them, and they will continue to stare straight ahead off into the distance. This is aided most times by the application of earbuds drowning out the noise. They know what’s going on, but believe if they don’t look directly at it, then it really isn’t happening. See something, pretend you don’t see it, and say nothing is their motto.
9. The Doorstopper – these people are of a special breed. Yes, I get that you are cold and that you don’t like exposure to the elements. Yes, for Chrissakes, the Starks were right about winter coming. But, as for that, most people don’t like these things and are not so self-absorbed in the practice of making a public space their own personal barrier to nature. Where these folks shine is in encumbering the small amount of space just outside of station entrances or at the top of escalators. Folks, let me be the first to say, “Get out of the damn way!” Seriously, someone could get badly hurt as you hovel inside the spaces that are required for safe escalator egress. Suck it up, stop being a turd, step out into the world.
8. The Glazed Phone Nut– this pertains to almost all weary MBTA Transit Travelers. “The Glazed Phone Nuts” are everywhere. “The Glazed Phone Nut” differs from “The Not Me,” in that a mobile device has captured their soul, and their indifference is totally passive. The only way these folks would know if there was an emergency on the transit they are riding would be if a push notification came across their screen letting them know something was happening. Even then, they would still be hard pressed to pull their faces away from the black hole gravity they hold in their palms. Aldous Huxley called it Soma, we call it being connected. Addiction has many forms, but this self-abuse is particularly hard to escape.
7. The Space Invader– space, or lack thereof is a harsh reality when riding public transit. Either your all up in someone’s face and hips with a backpack and an umbrella poking into your back, or your space is involuntarily usurped by people that tend to misunderstand the amount of space that is socially acceptable and allowed by quantum mechanics. To these folks, I implore you to please be cognizant that you are among other people that require some modicum of comfort in commuting from home to work. If I have to contort into the Downward Dog when traveling from Oak Grove to Forest Hills for more than a cool two minutes, I believe my spine will stay permanently misaligned, and I’ll be doomed to scurry around Middle Earth looking for Bilbo and Frodo.
6. The Thinker – these folks carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and face. I envy them their concentration while amidst throngs of ne’er-do-wells. I like to think that they are thinking of creative ways in which to exact pain and discomfort on all others on this list. A man can dream. The struggle is real people, if you spot a thinker on your commute, just stand out of the way and let them ponder. The heavy lifting needs to be done and these are just the folks to do it.
5. The Stinker – you know these folks. Harry Halitosis, Fiona FoulFeet, Barry Bungsweat. All strategically placed throughout your summer commute, so as to remind you of how for granted we take working air conditioning. These are sophisticated individuals that prefer to practice abstinence of cleanliness over hygiene. They don’t give a fug, and in most cases are proud to spread their essence. As a seasoned rider myself, the best advice I can give is to not breathe through your nose. Eventually, they will leave the train, and three stops after that exit, their cloud will dissipate.
4. The Meditator – this is the traveler you need to take notes on. “The Meditator” is one Zen cat, and can ride the rails or roads under any circumstances with complete and total consciousness. They simple close their eyes and breathe. Nothing breaks their stride. I am actively trying to learn to lessen the slings and arrows of an outrageous commute, but when I breathe the fumes of “The Stinker” (see #5) I lose all concentration. Here’s to turning more transit time into Transcendental Transit.
3. The Spreader– perhaps I have an inherent bias, but in all the hoopla about “Manspreading”, I’ve yet to see in men the general lack of consideration for space that the fairer sex exhibits on public transit. Surely, we can all agree to a more conservative arrangement for hauling all worldly possessions from point A to point B when using public transit. Here’s a tip: if you need a pack mule to lug your belongings from home to work, then you just might be indecisive or living a life of material excess. You are not allowed to have a briefcase, a backpack, a canvass bag full of shoes and gym wear, a cake tent or muffing tote, a yoga mat, a diorama, a 5″ binder, and a small chest full of costume jewelry. And you most certainly cannot use two seats to spread it all out.
“You stole fizzy lifting drinks! Good day!”
2. The Sweet Potato Ride – sharing is a nice thing, unless it is the pungent smell of food that no one else can enjoy, and is accompanied by the misfortune of listening to your slurping, lip-smacking, open-mouth chewing, and greasy finger feeding frenzy. If you eat fish, garlic-based dishes, or mystery meats while commuting, you are a Paula Abdul Straight Up Creature.
1. The Yankee Clipper – my least favorite traveler by a large margin, has to be “The Yankee Clipper.” The outright gall. No self-awareness. A total violation of the social contract. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness does not include poorly thought out grooming activity whereby I am subjected to being hit in the face with dirty DNA samples of your funky fingernails. The audible clips and grunts that accompany the action are also clear violations. Friends, fellow citizens, manicure enthusiasts, please refrain from such atrocities.
0. The Snoozer – the afflicted. Either a hard day’s night, opioid abuse, or straight up nappers. If there ever was a case for letting sleeping dogs lie, these folks embody it. Don’t provoke “The Snoozer,” you’ll regret it to your dying day.
-1. The Mad Hatter – aggressive, aloof, unhinged, or a combination of all three, this traveler gets a dishonorable mention for making everyone’s trip miserable. It’s complete Russian Roulette when you encounter this character. You either leave enlightened or in need of a tourniquet. You’d do well to become a “Not Me” or “The Snoozer” when encountering this Stranger Danger.
“Found and Lost, Lost and Found”
A lyrical chimera,
resides upon a hill.
Try to get my verse on,
but she won’t stay still.
Evasive and pervasive,
this startling murmuration.
Eight muses felled at once,
the ninth became complacent.
Slippery, past recall.
She slowly dissipates.
The biggest pen-tease of all,
has me in figure eights.
Once I concede my role,
a synergy is found.
Swallowed pride, a heavy toll.
What once was lost, now found.
All of the words.
An expressive and bitter, “No!”
A wrinkled nose, from unkempt nose hairs.
The minute my hands are involved with dish soap.
Doggie scratching on the door.
The mail carrier ripped important correspondence shoving it into your cast iron mailbox.
Molded plastic breaks when stepped on, and finds soft tissue on a foot sole.
The bus escapes the nearest stop, just as I turn the corner of the driveway.
Left for life.
Left for dead.
The long cold walk.
Concrete sprawling out, out, and forever.
The river’s edge.
Depths of frozen sleep.
The sky suffocates my passage.
Doesn’t recognize or care to remember my boot imprints in the snow.
It melts gradually, and meets the sewer grate for the trip to the harbor.
Halfway house spectacles line the corridor leading to transit.
Coffee and cigarettes substitute for harder gravities.
My hardship brethren walking the walk.
Life is hard for all.
It’s hard to set parameters for yourself, when they’ve already been set well in advance of your arrival to this fucking circus.