Public Transportation Brings Out the Worst in People

This all stems from a tweet I saw today which can be found here.

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I hate riding the subway. I am not a city boy by any means. I visit the city fairly often, but I still make the casual glance at the subway maps just in case. Public transportation is a wondrous thing.

Pay a fee, wait around, cram onto a train with dozens of others, and go somewhere else. It’s a beautiful concept. Sure there are kinks. I’ve never been a comfortable temperature on the train. And touching the railing is a coin-flip on contracting various plagues dating back all the way to the Jurassic Period.

But without a doubt the worst aspect is the people. To be fair public transportation brings out the worst in everybody. Imagine paying money to rub against some other sad soul as a large metal box carries you. Your personal space is violated, you have zero control over where you’re going, and there’s only so many directions you can blankly stare without being creepy.

Overall there really haven’t been any life-and-death events that I’ve seen on the train. Not to say I’m complaining in any way. I’m on a train to get from point A to point B, that’s it.

However, one particular event sticks out.

It was late at night and I had just gotten out of a pro-basketball game. We won handily and it was a fun night with some friends. I said my goodbyes and made my way to the subway.

Since the game had just ended, everyone was piling in. People upon people and I was lucky to be one of the first people to get on. Not early enough to get a seat, but early enough. As I got settled, my eyes started to wander. There were your usual cast of characters: college student on Red Bull number 10 and 11 , single parent corralling 3 loud kids, and so on. One person that caught my eyes was an older gentleman wearing a Charlotte Hornets baseball cap. The game I was coming from was against the Hornets and I hadn’t seen a single one of their fans while I was at the game. Clearly he had just gotten out of the game as well.

At first glance he looked like a nicer Steve Jobs. He had dad jeans, a solid-blue sweater, a fuzzy beard, glasses, and a nice half-smile. The smile you’d have after seeing your favorite team play live and watch them get trounced. Sad that they lost, but just happy to be there. Clearly this was a new experience to him, he was decked out in obvious visitor apparel. He had a backpack with a charger sticking out and he was staring at the subway map on the train.

Now I’ve never been to sports game where the team I was following was the away team, but I can’t imagine its the most pleasant thing. Imagine sitting in a stadium of thousands of other people that can tell that you have a different view than them by simply looking at what you were wearing and who you were cheering on. My city is particularly notorious for being rowdy and especially malicious when it came to sports and I’m always amazed by the bravery it must take to show one’s opposing fandom in the open like that.

It may be mainly my paranoia, but you never know who will get upset by your purely subjective views of what sports team you follow.

Emotions can run surprisingly high in sports, even among fans, and there are plenty of dumb, emotional people out there.

I kept my eye on him because his team had lost pretty badly that day, yet the smile he wore definitely gave the impression that it was an overall good experience. It was  so wholesome to see. Win or lose, he at least got the experience of seeing the team he had been rooting for for years. My mind began to wander expanding his backstory for this cute old man on the subway. Like he had been saving for the cheapest seats he could find for years and finally after all his hard work he could finally go. I could see the looks of surprise his coworkers gave when he mentioned that he had never attended a live game before. He’d tell his friends about the full experience for years to come and show pictures of the game like new parents show their baby’s pictures.

It was a nice sight to see among the typical cast of riders. He had a level of wonder to him, still taking in the experience of the game and all the new things he got to do in the city. I remembered going to my first game as a young lad and soaking in the bustle of the city almost as much as the game itself. It really made me appreciate the memories I had.

It reminds me of that cute Chiefs fan a couple years ago:

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However, that didn’t last long.

As I mentioned before, he had been trying to discern the labyrinth that is my city’s subway. Unfortunately while looking, he wasn’t really paying attention to the area around him.

A man in a motorized scooter rolled onto the train and was blocked from fully getting on because of the older man. Uh oh.

The scooter guy honked his horn.

“EXCUSE ME?”

The older man jumped up a bit. The horn was military grade or something. A couple people turned to look at the source of the noise.

“Oh sorry about that, I got distracted.” The man moved aside.

And at first that seemed like the end of that. In fact it was stranger that not a single curse word was uttered.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The older gentleman tipped his cap to the man and he made his fatal mistake. The other guy’s eyes widened. I could practically see the connection being made that the older gentlemen was in fact not a local and the scooter man did not appreciate that.

“Can’t believe such a dumb fuck managed to make it out here”, the scooter man said to no one in particular.

“It’s a good thing your shit team managed to figure out what a basketball was. Maybe you’ll know better than to come out here next time.”

Obviously I don’t recall the exact words, but I do recall the scooter guy not being able to construct a half decent insult to save his life.

I was fully expecting the old man to retaliate with his own barrage of words, as is tradition on any public transportation. But nothing happened.

The old man just continued taking the verbal abuse. The half-smile dissipated into a grimace. Up until that point there had been a certain level of innocence to the man. One angry person later and it was gone. People around the two shifted nervously, pretending like they couldn’t hear a grown man yelling a foot away from them.

Once the tirade ended, the old man lowered his head, mumbled an apology, and pushed to a corner of the car. The man took off his Hornets hat and pushed his bag between his legs. He pushed his legs together and did his best to take up as little room as possible.

Just like that his day was ruined. His team lost, he got cursed out by a stranger, and no one else had batted an eye.

As the train started up, the gentlemen just stared at the ground around him. The smile was long gone, hand-in-hand with the wonder he had mere minutes ago. A couple stops later he bolted off the train, receiving a vocal “Good fucking riddance” from the scooter guy as he passed him.

It’s one of those instances where I wish I had done something and I’ve imagined countless of scenarios where I did, but that doesn’t change anything that really happened now does it.I did nothing.

I hope that old guy can look back and laugh at how ridiculous that situation is. However, I can’t help but think that experience would deter him from seeing his favorite team live ever again.

I’m sure the scooter guy was having a rough day as well. Using public transportation is rough enough, dealing with it while factoring in the logistics of a large motorized scooter must be unbearable. That doesn’t change the fact that he ruined someone else’s day for the simple crime of being slightly in the way. I guess I shouldn’t really talk considering I didn’t say or do anything to at least console the man.

I’ll never forget the wonder he had and how quickly it was stolen away. It’s just something I wanted to share really.

If you’re still out there older Hornets fan, keep your chin up!

 

 

 

College Love Tragedy

College is a strange time for people. Some people are figuring out how to be adults. Most haven’t even started worrying about it. Certain kids I saw on campus looked like they were fresh out of a middle school, while others were already bald (I still think about that guy).

I’ve never seen such a mix of people in one area before and the amount of dumb shit that resulted from it is astounding. Whoever thought it was a good idea to group thousands of young adults in a small area should be forced to live with them for a year. I never knew how dumb people could be until I lived on-campus and I worked in retail. My freshman hall went through at least 3 microwaves at the expense of finding out what happens when you let metal get hit by magnets or whatever the hell makes microwaves work.

I have plenty of stories about college, but only one captured the essence of love in a single night.

For background, I lived in a hall with suites; basically a common room and bathroom with four rooms connected to them. I lived with some athletes, stoners, and a really strange kid. However, the stars of this short tale are not us, but the room across from us.

707.

Room 707 was a girls suite and housed 8 girls who all had a variation of “Taylor” for names. It was spooky. I don’t think any of them were named Taylor, rather names like Taylah and Tally. When they introduced themselves to our suite, I just assumed there had been one girl named Taylor in the room that had control over them all, but that was just a theory.

Anyways, these girls were fairly…recyclable. Not quite trashy, but from a distance its hard to tell the difference. Loud, drunk, they garnered a lot of attention from other guys. None of the trashiness mattered as long as they were willing to date/screw guys. The college that I went to had an extremely poor guy to girl ratio, so finding a group of girls was difficult enough. Just being a girl and conscious made you at least a 7 at our school.  It was rumored that we were an all-guy school with a couple of cross -dressing students. I have never seen an almost all guy yoga class before, but the disappointment combined with testosterone was palpable.

So a poor girl to guy ratio combined with a room full of recyclable girls, its like a perfect storm of drama.

Among the Taylor ranks, one rose above the rest over time. I’ll call her Taylor because I cannot remember what her real one was. Taylor was fairly cute and extremely social. She barged into my suite on the first day to talk everyone up and personally invite her whole suite to ours. At the party she was all over everyone yet had a vibe of just friendliness at the same time. I don’t think I had ever met a blackout drunk that was so accommodating and friendly. They usually just say that they’re too drunk and pass out in our trashcan.

Anyways Taylor garnered a lot of attention that night along with the rest of the Taylor squad.

Every weekend after, gentleman callers would slip into the suite at various times of the day. I’m talking like 5-8 a day. Our suite would call out which lady he was whispering poetry and propose dowries for their hands. It became a game.

“Hey jack-o-lantern head is back again for Tay-tay no doubt.”

“Nah man I heard he’s with Tyalor (sic) now”

We were in no way trying to shame them, but man was it a drama fest. I have seen more fights occurring in that hallway between 707 and our room than I’ve seen in a Pay Per View Special. A couple times the fight would spill into our room and I can assure you that restraining a 6 foot 4 football player with a blood alcohol content of 1.00 is difficult when you’re fresh out of the shower.

Taylor ruled over the rest of them though and accepted nearly every challenger.

That one Taylor was essentially the Helen of Troy to the campus. The wars with the victor stumbling into her room to receive their prize. It was a weekly event.However there was one night that was different.

One of my roommates was on lookout, ready to call if any drama was about to unfold, and suddenly noticed an unfamiliar face.

He called from the door, “How often does a ginger kid with an under-bite come by?”

My mind instantly raced with a sea of faces, but none quite matched. He didn’t seem like someone who frequented the 707 girls.

“Oh God he brought flowers what the hell.”

Everyone within earshot in our suite rushed to the door, peaking through any crevice we could see through. Our giggling was only stifled by our curiosity.

When I managed to sneak a peek at him, I recognized him and horror began to fill my chest. I knew him. He was a kid in my Actuarial Math class. I’ll just say that kids in those classes were not exactly studs, myself included. He was so out of his league he was in a different sport. He was so out of place he was in orbit. He was so not supposed to be there that he shouldn’t have been there.

I later learned that he had been in a group project with her and her constant flirting was taken the wrong way. No one knows how he found out where she lived. He was pacing back and forth, doing some last second integrals to check his chances.

To everyone’s horror/humor, a basketball player shoved him aside and went into 707’s suite. The contrast between athlete and actuary was staggering. These were two people who did not even acknowledge each other’s existence in college.

We could see him rethinking his plans, fighting with his doubts. I could gauge what he was thinking pretty well.

“That guy was going to see a different girl in the suite. Taylor is different. She likes me.”

That poor man.

After about five minutes, he did it.

Without so much as a knock, he went in. I could not see what was happening, but I could hear yelling and screaming almost immediately. The guy had barged in on her and the basketball player practicing the pelvic heimlich maneuver.

He dropped the flower and bolted out. Taylor ran to the door to scream at him and the basketball player chased after him. I have no clue what the two did, but neither came back that night.

Taylor was still butt naked and every one of my roommates could not keep quiet witnessing nature in all its beauty. Her gaze shifted to our door and we bolted to our on rooms within the suite.

We all waited a bit before we heard her door close and I slowly came back out to check if anything else would happen. I was surprised to see that the basketball player never returned, but a new challenger, a lacrosse player came in nearly 20 minutes later to, I can only extrapolate here, finish what the basketball player had started.

I don’t know what lesson I should have learned from this situation. College love does not exist. Yet at the same time, the confidence and determination of the Math Man were commendable. In the end, it was the man who waited who got the prize, not the romantic or the first-comer (ha).

College is weird.

Everyone Hates Dentists

dental

One of the most relatable childhood problems was a dislike for the dentist. There was a weird smelling waiting room with other people who did not want to be there. Sitting there was never laughing or playing, just a somber silence with the occasional sound of drilling or metal scraping teeth.The smell has a faint doctor’s office feel, yet there is something more pungent with all the spit and open mouths that makes it worse. Cartoons tend to exaggerate every aspect of one’s childhood, but even as a young adult the dislike is still there.

No fully functioning adult goes to the dentist voluntarily. “I’d love to go to the movies this weekend, but I got this sweet dental appointment that day”. If you’re healthy, there should not be a force on this earth to prevent you from not going. Except one’s mother of course.

Maybe its the pain associated with it. Having hooks scrape your teeth and gums for what seems like hours is not good for one psyche. Having to remain motionless as a complete stranger goes to town on your mouth, the only stimulation being some weird motivational poster with zebras on it on the ceiling. I have been going to the same dentist for 15 years and I still have not deciphered its meaning. Perhaps its a message from past patients who could not bear the process and bled to death from their gums.

The atmosphere sucks. The process itself hurts and sucks. But NOTHING compares to immediate feeling after the cleaning is done.

Whenever I go to the dentist I try to stay positive with the dentist. I talk about what has been happening in college, ask them about their kids, just trying to make the situation as bearable as possible. In a few minutes that person is going to be knuckles deep in your mouth with metal objects, it’s wise to keep them on your side.

I’ve always been the kinda guy who tries to keep as healthy as possible, teeth included. I floss everyday, I brush twice a day, and I brush for the full two minutes with an electric toothbrush. I only forget to brush like once a week. I’m the ideal dental patient. Dental colleges (are those a thing) should be paying me to be a model or something. Every time I go into the dentist chair I’m confident that this will be the time that they find no real problems with my mouth. I’ve finally overcame that hump. I’m no longer a disgusting heathen, brushing his teeth with sugar and Sprite.

But even if the appointment is quick, the dentist’s composure hides the truth. Before it begins, they’re talkative with me, smiling and asking questions. We’re best friends. Then they have work on my mouth. It changes them. The dentist won’t even look me in the eyes. They lost a little bit of their humanity by working on my mouth. I’m pretty sure they schedule my appointments so the dentist who works on me can go home, take a cold shower, and smoke a couple cigarettes. I change dentists or something. This horrible environment is nothing compared to the monster I am in their eyes.

I swear I do everything they tell me to, but I’ll always have a disgusting mouth. Whatever. I hate dentists. I just won’t tell that to their faces.

The Big Little League (part 1)

In my town there was nothing to do. That sentiment was not only from rebellious teenagers. Even the kids and adults felt that way about our town. The community heads tried their best. They sponsored new events that always ended with rain and the same people showing up. We as a collective town had nothing. The only slight joy the town provided was the park in the middle of town,and in the middle of the park, the baseball fields.
For whatever reason, the fields were nicer than the middle and high school fields. The town’s little league program was nowhere near the best in the state let alone the country, but man did everyone care about it. Adults coming home from work would sometimes swing by to say hi to their friends and cheer on a bunch of middle school children play baseball. To make it in my town’s league made you a pseudo-celebrity for a year or two. Kids younger than you would look up to you like a hero and adults that did not even have a kid in the league would pick up a team to support. Friday was a day to come together as a town and enjoy baseball on a fundamental level.
Everyone knew about it. Watching “the game” wasn’t our high school football team, but the little league ones. Teenagers and parents would come to watch their little kids play. Other adults would come to socialize, eat some under-cooked hot dogs, and drink enough to still be able to drive home. Even the senior citizens could would appear; out of breath from their mid-afternoon strolls. They’d plop in a seat to record the kids statistics and enjoy the next generation.
I never felt too attached to my town, but those years of baseball helped me appreciate the togetherness the town had when it came to the league. The crowd that gathered to cheer for their arbitrarily chosen team. The warm evening air that became a cool breeze as night approached and the lights turned on to illuminate players and mosquitoes alike.
Baseball was king in my town. Every boy dreamt of playing in the Major League. Not the MLB no. The oldest group the league had to offer was made up of sixth and seventh graders (though I can’t remember every detail). I just remember it was in middle school.). Even in kindergarten, the boys would be fantasizing over becoming the best the league had seen and get the celebrity status that came with it. If you were one of the pillar players for a team, you were immediately popular. Older kids would high-five you. Adults would compliment you in the streets. Homeless people would give you change. Being among the elite came with its own prestige and risks as well. You were expected to be the best in every aspect.
There was a mystique among the pillars. They were the players that had superpowers when they stepped onto the field. Coaches would have to prepare strategies around countering them. Every team had at least one and in rare instances more. If asked any player who the pillars were for that year, they’d rattle off every single one along with what made them a pillar.
It was a privilege to be in the league. It was an honor to be a pillar.
See not everyone made it into the league. The popularity of it in the town had made it so almost every sixth and seventh grader wanted to play. There were set tryouts, something unheard of at that level. On a cold early spring morning, sixth graders and the occasional seventh grader would spend a grueling 6 hours being test and analyzed. There was more running in that one day than the rest of the season combined. Fielding,batting,pitching,base-running. They were all drilled, then a small break followed by going through it again. At the end of the day, the coaches would draft their teams in private. The release of the team rosters would be out by the end of week, stapled to the side of the snack shack in the center of all three of the baseball fields. Over the course of the weekend, adults would take their children down to the fields. They would get tosee either their dreams come to fruition or get stomped down by a single piece of paper.
There were always plenty of tears.
When my class became sixth graders, the first day of school was not filled with talks about teachers, or summer activities. Who gave a crap about some old farts, the real magic was the Majors tryouts. They were in the Spring, but even in the Fall, everyone was trying to figure out who was going to be on what team. The only other time I had ever witness so many kids in my class talking about a singular topic was when a kid poured some hand sanitizer in a teacher’s coffee.
I was not one of those people.
I played baseball since the earliest possible age, but I was one of the worst players in the league. I knew it, the other kids knew it, my Dad knew it. Baseball was the first thing I’d talk about with people I met. I loved the stats, the lore, the culture, but when it came to using the bat to hit the ball, I failed each and every time. The tee-ball stand almost threw a no-hitter against me. Whatever team I was on was a stinker, blowing game after game. I don’t think any of them even made it to .500.
I was moping about what I would do with all of my free time this Spring. There was no way I made a team, unless the coaches were blind, deaf, and did not know the rules of baseball. In that scenario my chances were still not the best.
In the lower leagues, I’d always beg my Dad to stay to watch “the Majors” games. I fantasized over leading my team to a championship and being a pillar. Pillars were popular, confident, and had superpowers when they stepped onto the field. The pillar I that I idolized the most was nicknamed “Sky”. Every single ball he hit arced high and always managed to drop out of outfielders’ reach. Anytime the Reds played, I went down to the park to see him in action.

Some kids looked up to Superman, but I looked up to a kid that would go on to work at a local gas station…

While going over my plans of becoming a gas station attendant, someone grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. It was Matt, one of my oldest friends.

“You pumped for the Majors?”, Matt said grinning from ear to ear. He was always way too positive off the field, but once he got on the field he was more business than a Japanese CEO.

“It’ll be weird watchin’ from the sidelines”, I replied without looking up.

“Oh come-on, tryouts haven’t even started and you think you’re already cut.”

I looked up from my desk, “It’s a little bit different for kids who aren’t locked for a spot.”

Matt was the son of one of the coaches, the Tigers. The sons of coaches automatically made the league and almost all of them were pillars the year they got in. He was one of the fastest pitchers in our class and hitting was already second-nature to him.

Everything was coming up Matt and his Majors career hadn’t even begun.

Matt looked hurt. He sat down next to me with a large sigh, saying, ” I can think of at least 5 kids worse than you no doubt.”

“That’s a lie and you know it.”

Matt shrugged,” Who knows maybe my dad picks you so we can witness your destruction of the league”.

At that moment, my mind raced to being one of the pillars with my first friend and dominating the league. Looking back now, that was a load of cow manure for plenty of reasons. Matt was not only destined to be a pillar from the start, but he was put on one of the top teams too. Though the turnover of coaches was biennial by nature, cultures of teams were carried down as a form of adding more variety and tradition. The annual contenders were the Tigers, Athletics, and Rockies. Those three of the eight were always the best, placing victory above all else in their cultures with slight variations. All teams wanted to win, but only those three were successful. They attracted the most competitive coaches, who in turn drafted the best kids, and continued the dominance. When you fantasized about being in the league, it was wearing one of those colors.

I was still in my daze of glory when class began, and my off season preparations began.

 

 

One of the Most Pathetic Attempts in Romance History

Sometimes looking back at the failures in your love life can help you in the future. Usually it just hurts though.

I have never been a suave man. Man is hardly a description of me, let alone a suave one. I was not in anyway bad at talking to girls throughout my life, they’re just people after all. They live in the same world as everyone else, filled with all the stresses and problems that seem to just nag at you until they are too overwhelming to stop. We’re all human (or so I’ve been lead to believe). Even girls fall into that category to my great surprise. “Everybody poops” my Grandpa would say, as I would often help him wipe his ass.

In my young eyes, the girls that I were attracted to did not fall into that above category of human. Whenever someone of the opposite sex would pique my interest, my mind would immediately put her on a pedestal about twice as high as Trump’s wall. They could do no wrong and I was merely a mortal gifted an opportunity to look at her. Speaking to a girl I liked was like surgery, me barely coherent and one small slip-up away from dying of anxiety.

That’s a pretty normal problem to have in middle school, but a guy has to get over that at some point. I had thought I had gotten over it in high school, but no. One particular college experience made me realize how little progress I had made.

For a little background, I go to an extremely small school with around 3000 people. That translates to roughly 20ish students per class and everyone sitting in the same seats as the school decided to skip out on buying multiple tables. Also, the guy to girl ratio was heavily skewed towards guys, badly. Like extremely rare. We weren’t even an engineering school, the hell. So in addition to the pressures that come with approaches and whatnot, guys at my school had to deal with it being impossible to avoid others in a class unless you completely dropped the course (and sometimes that’s what you gotta do), while also realizing there were not a lot of fish in the sea. Also the sea is more like a pond. The pond is on fire too, but that’s a different story.

So this whole nonsense occurred in my public history class. I spent the first couple weeks in class like I spend most of my time; bored and oblivious. The only thing I could focus on was the girl sitting a table away from me.

I spent the entire class thinking,

“What would I even say to her?”

“Just say hi.”

“When has that ever worked ya dingis?”

At one point I even drafted what I would even say to her in my notebook in the margins. Let me point out that she was sitting about four feet from me, so I can only imagine how fucking insane I must have looked while filling every inch of blank space in my notebook with stuff about her. After class I would beat myself up about not even trying to talk to her before or after class. I would spend hours on /r/seduction and other sites trying to find the perfect phrase that would instantly display to her that I was the alpha and insanely confident about myself. Every time I failed to even make direct eye contact with her, I’d spend the rest of the day beating myself up. If there is one skill I have mastered, its beating myself up. My biggest and only bully in life has,is,and will continue to be myself.

The only reason I kept even attempting to speak to her was because there would be another class that I’d be able to try and fail in. This cycle went on until the very last day of the class.

I got a B in the class by the way. I have no idea how.

By this point my notebook was about 10% notes from the class and 90% the thoughts of a horny, insane asylum resident. I was exhausted from studying for finals and had reached the end of being able to say , “Just try again tomorrow”. This was an all-time low. She must of known somewhat what I was doing about it and trying to ignore it right? This creepy guy trying to look at her throughout class, but then simply scribbling some stupid pick-up lines about her in his notebook. Not really the best angle to come from.

When the final rolled around I was too exhausted to make an excuse for not talking to her. What was the point? I pussied out plenty before, does taking one more in the loss column really make much of a difference? Anyways after the final, our professor handed out some food for us and talk about the final. And of course, the girl has to hand the food off to me.

I could feel my entire body tighten, expecting something along the lines of “Choke on these you creepy fuck”. A perfect end to a horrible semester of absolute disgust of myself as a man. I looked her in the eyes, readying my defense on how I was just writing notes to ask out some other girl that definitely was not her. A flawless defense really.

Instead, she just smiled at me and started talking.

I don’t remember what she said, I can only recall the wave of tension leaving my body to find another victim. A half a year’s worries had built up to the point where I couldn’t focus on much else. Hell, at one point I had written “Cancer would be cured before you fix your manhood” in my notebook. We whispered for the rest of the discussion. She was hilarious and I’m glad I got to talk to her once. Did I mention I somehow got a B in that class?

I can’t say I asked her out or anything (well I could but then I’d be lying), but that moment showed me something about how I had been acting. Sorry there is no real grand payoff for this long story. There are only some lessons, like  old cartoons.

What I got was that I was beating myself way more than I should have. She had not been creeped out by me at all and talking with her wasn’t forced or something either of us had to do, we just did. Remember what I said at the  beginning about poop? Everybody does it. Everyone is their own worst critic about things others don’t even notice. It’s also a better idea to approach someone before you have too much time to psych-out yourself, or write in your notebook.

I also learned how much of a pussy I am.

Horrible end to the story I know, but it could have been way worse.