But the most amusing part of the metro is the people who haven't built up these tolerances. The newbies. The visitors. In a bar, they would be the anti-regulars. The people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter. These are the people whom i LOVE.
Why, you may ask? Because they're fresh, simply seeping with enthusiasm, wonder, and disgust. They're the ones whom i watch from my seat in the back corner of the train. The ones who are agast at the smells and sounds of the 'lower classes.' Their reactions to certain train situations is what gives me my daily giggles. It's sad, i know. But what else is one to do on the metro every day for 3 1/2 hours? I've done so many sudokus that i see numbers in my sleep. Here we go.
So i'm waiting to come home at the red line last week. This is the line where the stop is underground. It's inside of a building. Like the opposite of outside. It's warm, not windy, and feels kinda like a pavilion in the mall, with the exception of the stench.
Well that sounds nice Mark, you say, but why are you always complaining about the smell? Well, i'll tell you. So i'm standing against a pillar waiting for my 7:45pm to North Hollywood. And i look over to my left. As if on que, a bum leans up against the stairwell and starts pissing on the wall, mumbling to himself. Just right there, in the middle of the train station. I shake my head, and very briefly contemplate shouting at him to halt. I stop myself, imaging that a man who pees on a wall indoors probably won't care anyway, and may even turn the stream on me. I turn back to my sudokus. What number is missing? 4. Got it. That's when two screaming teenagers run past me. They're shouting and hollering 'oh my god' and 'that's so gross!' They keep looking back, gigggle-gagging, and freaking out with their jazz hands at this crazy Metro sighting. They go on and on about LA and Hollywood and how they've never seen anything like that in their lives.
I chuckle. Welcome to public transportation, ladies.
Once i board the train, i notice my old friend. I like to call him 'the moaner.' I first met him over six months ago, when he wandered up to me, maoning and gurgling with his throat, sticking a piece of paper in front of my face. On the paper was written that he was deaf, and wanted money. I shook my head no, like i do dozens of times a week.
He was insistent. Shoving the paper even further in front of my face. And moaning louder. I look him in the eyes, and say NO. He groans louder as if i had insulted him, waits a few more seconds, then moves on, moaning and grunting all the way down the train. It was really quite uncomfortable, and i felt bad for the guy. I wondered whether he really was deaf, or was this just another ploy on people to get some spare change. At that moment, i wish i had known sign language. I could have quickly signed to him saying something like, 'are you ok?' or 'can i buy you a sandwich?' to see if he really was deaf.
Over the months i've seen him a number of times. More specifically, i've heard him, as he loudly moans down the aisle of the trains. I don't make eye contact with him anymore.
Well this particular time, i heard him on the blue line. And once i got on the red line, he was there again. A few rows behind me. But this time he wasn't begging. He was just sitting there, wearing his shiny purple LA Lakers jacket, smiling and moaning away. I, of course payed no attention, but this must of been quite a site for some of the freshies on the train. A black couple two rows in front of me just couldn't get enough. It looked like they were students. They kept staring and staring. They talked about what was possibly wrong with the guy, and just laughing out loud, stomping their feet every time he happened to make an especially loud grunt-moan. The beauty of the whole scene is that the train ride is 22 minutes long. And the guy was grunting the whole time! And for no reason! I eventually looked back after one of the students nearly fell out of his seat in hysteria.
And there he was, the moaner, looking right as rain. Sitting there, smiling, weaving his head back and forth, moaning up a storm. I imagine if he was silent, no one would even notice him for a second. He would have just blended right in with the basketball fan crowd, as another face with no story; no history. A ghost.
And maybe that's the point.