Some fucker at Henry’s work had the nerve to take off Monday through today, which meant I had to take the goddamn trolley to work since Henry had to go make stupid Faygo deliveries.
Everyone is always like, “Riding the T is not that big of a deal, Erin. There’s a stop directly across from your work!” And there really is! It’s super convenient, and the closest t-stop to my house is within walking distance. But for someone as tightly-wound as me, the simple act of riding public transportation is enough to ruin my entire day (not to mention my relationship with Henry).
For example, when Andrea was here last September, she had to take my trolley fare from me because I was sitting on a bench counting and re-counting it like a textbook OCD sufferer and my clammy palms were laundering the money in the very true sense of the word.
Monday, my eardrums were treated to the incessant childish whine of a crackhead who slurred loudly into her cell phone all the way to downtown. Fucking crackheads. Then a man with Downs Syndrome danced onto the T and continued his Soul Train while standing next to my seat. I smiled at him, but I think he was seriously trying to poach my seat; after looking around, I was like, “Get real, bro.” There were unlimited empty seats for him to choose! So finally, he danced his way to the back of the trolley. But then when I arrived at work, I was standing outside the building, talking on the phone, when another mentally handicapped man in a hunter green parka came at me out of nowhere, scooped me up in an airtight embrace, and squealed, “Happy Easter!”
I returned the sentiment (after panicking that I missed Easter) and then had to squat down and duck beneath his arm to escape his kidnapper hold on me. It was intense, and my friend on the phone nervously laughed and then asked, “What the fuck is happening over there?!” Probably the worst part was that immediately afterward, I had to ride the elevator up to my department with GLENN, who laughed demonically at my expense and then said, “No seriously, welcome to work, it’s nice to see you. Wow, I almost said that without laughing!”
I spent the next 2 hours trembling at my desk.
Tuesday was normal!
Today seemed like it was going to be normal for the first 2 minutes until I noticed it for the first time. This abrupt, bark-like outburst from the man sitting across from me in the handicap seat. Following the bark would be a hand-flap, and then a violent shake of his head.
Look, we all make noises sometimes and pretend to be motorboating invisible tits, I know this. However, there was something about this man and the way he was staring at me (I COULD FEEL HIM STARING AT ME) that was starting to make me clench up. And the way he kept inserting his hands into his coat pockets made me close my eyes tightly and pray to Saint Rita.
Probably he just had a nervous tic, maybe something akin to Tourette’s, but all I could think was, “THIS GUY DIDN’T TAKE HIS ANTI-PSYCHOTICS AND NOW HE’S GONG TO STAB ME FOR THE SIMPLE FACT THAT I’M WEARING PINK SOCKS, HOLY FUCKING SHIT, I DON’T KNOW.”
By the fourth stop, I was hugging my arms against my body so hard, I had somehow turned into my own personal straight jacket.
Occasionally, he would talk to no one in particular. Of course, no one would answer. I kept looking away from him, out the window, until it occured to me that his lack of responses might eventually set him off. I didn’t want to wind up with a Mexican necktie because I didn’t acknowledge his trite observation that it was raining in the morning and now it was not raining.
So when he shouted, “The weather is CONFUSED!” I made brief eye contact and shouted back, “I KNOW RIGHT HAHAHAHA” and the sound of my forced laughter made me close my eyes and cringe, but he seemed pleased at my consideration. Everyone else, however, was now looking at me like I was just as fucked up.
This kept going on and on with the weird UNGGGHHs and motorboating and nervous hand-stuffing in his pockets, while I continued to look out the window and think about what it’s going to feel like when a butterfly knife finds its way between my ribcage and how unfortunate it was that I was wearing one of my favorite sweaters, goddammit I didn’t want to get blood on my favorite Lauren Conrad sweater.
And then the T started its course across the river, so now I’m hyperventilating about the T falling off the bridge and into the river, where I will undoubtedly become entangled with dead river bodies, and all of this was making my vision have colorful dots in it.
Suddenly, an electronic beep fluttered from his person. “SHIT!” he spat angrily, and I braced myself for the explosion from the bomb that he accidentally detonated in his pocket. But it wound up just being his watch.
So when the T cruised to a halt at the stop before the one I needed, I bounded up from my seat and ran out the accordianed door, straight onto an unfamiliar trolley station. There were multiple signs pointing out the directions one would want to take depending on which street they were hoping to emerge onto, but I DON’T KNOW ANY STREET NAMES DOWN THERE.
I just stood there, like I was part of a scene from some lame indie movie where the main broad is all in slow motion while the rest of the city speeds past her, except for me what lies beyond is not the Jonny Craig I waited my whole life for (or at least a grilled cheese on a gold platter), but a plethora of ways to get myself lost real good in the city.
And that’s when I realized that my skittish body language probably had me looking a lot like that guy on the trolley; or worse—a tourist.
I chose a man with a purposeful stride and followed him up a set of steps and out into the daylight, where I called Henry, who was technically on my Non-Speaking list since it was all his fault in the first place that I had to ride the T and ALMOST GOT STABBED.
In a hyper-panicked, out-of-breath voice, I relayed to him my horror and then panted, “So now I don’t know how to get to work.”
“Ok…well, what do you see?” he asked, and I could tell he was stifling a laugh, that motherfucker.
“Tulips,” I said confidently. I saw lots of tulips behind a chain-link fence.
“What STREET are you on?” he asked, sighing wearily. And then, “Are you walking toward the river?”
“I don’t know where the river is!” I cried. But Henry eventually figured out where I was without the aid of the river.
To make him feel worse about what he did to me, I lied and said, “And just so you know, some car splashed me when I was walking to the T from the house, so now one side of me is entirely drenched.”
“Really? One entire side of you is wet? I’m going to call Wendy and ask her.” I never should have let Henry become friends with my co-workers.
Once I got to my desk, I was whining to Nina about what happened, who did her best Barb impression and coddled me like I need to be coddled. Carey overheard my woeful account and, after offering to draw me a map of important downtown landmarks, said, “You know, if you lived in the South, I bet people would say ‘bless your heart!’ to you a lot.”
I had to cross countless perilous streets to get to work, but at least it kept my Lauren Conrad sweater from getting slashed.