This is the story...
Saturday, January 10, 2009
On Thursday, on my way back from Toronto, I was sitting on the back of the train. Here is where the four sitter chairs are (they face each other). I like to sit there, because I can put my feet up and take a nap.
At the Brampton station, a tall oldish man went to the washroom and decided that he was going to sit in front of me. He announced it to the whole train, stating loudly: "Hey, I'm going to switch seats and sit here. Cool." I was sleeping and because he was so loud he woke me up.
A couple of minutes went by and he did indeed sit beside me; I smelled him, and I knew it wasn't going to be a pleasant trip: he smelled like a crazy person, a drunk crazy person. He started talking to me, but I'm not the most social person you could meet on the train, so I glanced at him and went back to sleep.
As he continued drinking 4 beers in 30 minutes, he started getting really agitated. It may have been the Napoleon Brandi chaser shots in between the brewskies, I couldn't really tell. The point is that because he was crazy and now more drunk than he was 30 minutes earlier, he knew everything about everything. For example, he thought I was Spanish because I "was brown" and that "other people are brown too," but he thought I was OK--other brown people, not so much OK. Again, I glanced, and tried to go back to sleep.
Another beer later, and he started trying to pick a fight with a gentlemen sitting on the other side of the isle. Our friend's new victim had a laptop, a calculator, and some papers that he was using to make corrections on. He started saying really loud that people who use computers were "addicted" and that "we don't use our brains anymore." He gave the famous "we only use 10% of our brains" bit of wisdom. Coming from a crazy drunk person, I started paying attention: what else does he know?
I didn't have to wait long. He said that "Einstein used 11%," which I think was very exact to be random. True, he was crazy but who makes a statistic like that one on the fly? Why not 12? I mean, 11 is a prime number, and prime numbers are all right.
Then he mentioned that his daughter had given him a pair of boots (ah, he was also proud of her and his other 4 kids). He kept staring at the boots and said: "I just had an idea; a brilliant idea. Why not make boots where you can attach things to them: skis or wheels underneath. Yeah, that's a billion dollar idea. In 10 years someone will invent them, and I will say, 'Hey, cool.'" I didn't have the heart to tell him that there already were things called ski boots and wheelies, and that roller blades had been around for a while now.
Because he was belligerent and loud, no one would look at him in the eyes. By instinct we know that by looking at someone in the eyes we are trying to engage him or her. And when the other person is drunk, crazy, agitated, or any combination of all these, it likely means that someone is about to get violent: "What? You're looking at me?" Eye avoidance is a survival reflex. I, on the other hand, like to push things a bit, so I looked into the eyes of the crazy, drunk old man. Like I said, I'm a dare devil.
I didn't see anger: I saw loneliness and sadness. I saw a man trying to prove to the world that the path that had taken him to where he was (crazy and drunk) was of his choosing. The strings and arrows of his fortune had nothing to do with his current state.
At the Kitchener station, where I get off, the train attendant found his Brandi bottle in his coat's pocket. He looked at me and asked me if I had complained about his drinking? I wonder if he ever noticed me at all: in between his soliloquies I was pretending to be asleep; hence, how could I have complained? Besides, I didn't really care: this is a free country (well, kind of).
He was the talk of the train. I doubt he ever made it to wherever he was going--Sarnia, I think. Note to self: crazy drunk people get thrown out of trains.
I looked into the eyes of a man. I was not afraid. I was sadden by his pain and loneliness. Of course, I had already figured out I could take him so that made me braver than usual. As I tell Gabriel, "I can Tae-Kwon-Do your ass on command." He laughs...But he laughs at all bad words. My Gabe; we have good times. Uncultured, good times.
As I was leaving the train, he wanted me to fist-bump him. I didn't. I said, "Take it easy, old dude. Take it easy."