I should have known when the last guy besides me to enter the jam-packed T car stood back to let me in first. That wasn’t a courtesy. It was survival!
Sandwiched between a tall man with bad breath and a sniffler on the other side of me, my phone’s battery died. WHY DIDN’T I ROLL OVER AND PLUG THE CHARGER INTO BEFORE FALLING ASLEEP. How could I have been so lazy? There was nothing to shield or distract me from halitosis and post-nasal drip.
A single tear of snot began gradually rolling out of my nose. My Kleenex purchased for just this purpose (“ON THE GO!”) was in my backpack. That particular bag was on the floor between my feet and I could not get to it without disturbing three or more people. Bad Breath took HIS phone out of his pocket, bringing it up and around to his front and smacking me in the side of my head as he did so. The Sniffler sniffled. Repeatedly. He was reading Marcus Aurelius in paperback (only Hannibal Lecter reads Marcus Aurelius!) and his sniffles sounded like a sucking chest wound.
“Oh, sorry,” Bad Breath said absent-mindedly.
“No worries,” I lied. I lied because the tear of snot that was now touching the top of my facial hair was causing me to panic internally. What did I care about being prodded in the head when I was about to be hideous to everyone? I was going to have to use my hand to wipe it before it became apparent. And I was going to have to remember to wipe it with the hand not holding on to the pole because that would put my snotty hand on a public pole. And if there was ENOUGH snot removed from the top outer rim of my goatee, I was going to have to wipe it somewhere. Probably on my coat. And I had to be as stealthy as possible with this entire operation or forever be imprinted on someone’s consciousness as The Gross Snotty Guy On The T On Wednesday Morning.
Eff it; I went for the Kleenex in my backpack. Apologies to Bad Breath, The Sniffler, and Woman With The Longest Arms In The World Who Was Managing To Hold On To The Same Pole As Me Despite Standing In The Center Of The Car. Actually, forget The Sniffler. He seemed like a twit.
At Andrew, I listened as Entitled Girl entered and slid her way behind me.
“Um, yeah, can you, um move aside so I can fit?”
There WAS a tiny bit of room so now I was ass to ass with some rando chick, and that’s not my speed. The least she could have done was buy me a drink first. She was tall and thin and it was grossing me out because I tried to move forward so her buttocks would no longer caress mine and SHE SEEMED TO GO WITH ME. Perv. Using the deductive powers of my ass, I knew that this woman was tall and thin and that I had more than enough fat to body check her into the next car. But no, I would remain pliant. And permissive. Confrontation is unspeakable to me. Unpleasant thoughts of Requiem From A Dream occurred to me and I was thankful for what my ass also deduced was the many layers of her winter coat. I could feel her fur lined hood tickling the back of my head. DO I HAVE A SIGN THAT SAYS GET ALL THE WAY UP IN MY SPACE BECAUSE I’M SLIGHTLY CLAUSTROPHOBIC? The attempted psychic coercion of Bad Breath to turn and pollute in her direction as punishment was to no avail. The Sniffler kept sniffling and reading his pretentious book which had already once rubbed against my brow. He didn’t apologize. Why was I the shortest person on this car?
The train lingered for a moment or two at Andrew and Entitled Boy showed up. He had the air of someone who was disembarking at South Station to work in finance. He was a straight-up prick.
Entitled Boy: Could you move in, please?
Entitled Girl: Um, there’s really nowhere for me to go.
You could go off my ass, I thought.
Entitled Boy: Yeah, there is. You could slide that way so I can…look, I’m coming in.
Entitled Girl: Fine, but there’s really not enough room.
Entitled Boy: Sure there is.
The Sniffler: Jesus f**king Christ.
Suddenly I was a little less dismissive of The Sniffler. You read all about coveting first the things we see every day, Clarice…I mean The Sniffler. Go forth!
Disembodied Voice From Somewhere On The Car: We’re packed in here like f**king sardines, dude!
I turned (as much as I could without impaling an eye on the corner of Bad Breath’s phone) to glare at Entitled Boy. Was he smiling? He was smiling. AND HOLDING HIS PHONE UP TO WATCH A VIDEO. Have the decency to keep your arms at your sides for two stops, you mullet. The Sniffler sniffled some more. I became dismissive of him once again.
As we rolled along in misery, I thought of my husband. And our car. We are a one car family. He gets it every morning because it’s easier to get to my place of business via public transportation than it is his. He leisurely drives to work in Dedham through Blue Hills, amongst the sun-dappled leaves and assorted lovely scenery. He listens to the soothing strains of the classical music station. Once he mentioned that his commute gets lonely sometimes. I am of cattle every morning. Sometimes I picture our car exploding. And I’m not talking about the MBTA car I was currently suffering in.