Thursday, October 1, 2009

Idle Hands, Idle Minds

[note: I don't have a USB cable with me so the photo(s) that accompany this will have to wait]

I should come clean and admit something: I have RBS. Restless Brain Syndrome. It is true that Pfizer has yet to address my needs with pharmaceuticals, but I fervently believe it's only a matter of time. I like doing more than one thing at a time. Jamie used to joke that I didn't watch TV, I listened to it. My fear of idleness is such that, if I have 100 pages or less to go in the book I am reading, I pack a second book. You never know when the subway you are on will go out of service between stations for an hour and you'll finish your book and have nothing else to do. I don't understand people who commute without something to occupy them.

So when I get on the train in the mornings I am wary of those people who have neither book nor newspaper nor Kindle. I myself have been knitting on the train because I'm having that experience where I'm nearing the end of a good book and I don't want it to end so I'm prolonging the experience. The people who are just staring blankly ahead, but not sleeping with their eyes open? Those people unnerve me. What could they possibly be doing or thinking? Are the thinking? Or are they just zoning out, slackening their jaw muscles, and waiting for the next stop. It should be noted that people who examine their cellphones as if the phones have changed since last they were held are truly no better than the mouth-breathers.

I was seated in the dining car again this morning, feeling jolly and retro. A man, I believe he works for the MTA, who usually gets on at Port Chester, got on today at Rye. He put his bags down and went to the bathroom. The well put together but obviously not on her way to gainful employment woman seated diagonally from me suddenly looked up and at his bags. She asked the gentlemen seated next to the bags if they were his, and receiving a negative response, became flustered. I told her they belonged to the man in the bathroom. She said that she was concerned because one of his bags looked a certain way. A certain way was that it held his walkie-talkie and the antenna was sticking out. I told her that if it made her feel any better I was pretty sure he worked for the MTA and took this train every morning. She breathed a sigh of relief. I resisted the urge to tell her that, statistically speaking, there was little for the terrorists to gain by blowing up the train that would take her to her personal shopping day at Bendel's.

But it reminded me that people really are narcissistic enough to believe they are personally being targeted. For the record, at least she wasn't a racist. Though I'm not sure she saw him before he went to the bathroom, the potential terrorist in question was a 50-year old, clinically obese, white guy who looked like he worked on the railroad all the livelong day. In her defense, he did have a beard. I listen to the same news the rest of the populace does, more or less, and callous though I may be, I just don't worry that when the news says my train might blow up that actually means there's a greater chance my train will be blown up. There was ALWAYS a good chance my train was going to be blown up, the question of who does the blowing up seems far less important in my mind than the fact I would be dead. I also don't feel like maximum collateral effect would be achieved by blowing up an off-peak New Haven line. The terrorists know it's a half-empty train of rich man's effluvia.

I resisted the urge to tell the woman this mainly because I am trying to fool the people around me into thinking I am normal, and laying into this woman for being stupid would be a clear indication of my lack of normal. But for the doubters still out there, I have a pretty strong feeling that you will not be a victim of terrorist attack on any of the following: the JetBlue flight from JFK to Burlington; the 10:30am Katonah to Grand Central; the M86 crosstown bus - also the M79, M72, and M66; the Hampton Jitney. See where I'm going with this? So everyone can exhale again and resume texting the decorator about wall treatments.

We're all going to be OK.

Nopropos: I was mean to the String store earlier this week and I wanted to taketh with one hand and giveth with another. I went into the Manhattan branch on Tuesday to ask a favor the salespeople were under no obligation to grant. The salesgirl (granted she was under 40 and didn't smell of cat) graciously helped me out. So maybe the Greenwich branch just needs a little more employee training.

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