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quartz and the bigot

By 12:24 AM , , ,

Originally uploaded by looseid
The train stopped moving this morning.

The conductor kept announcing, "We're running late. Very very late." over and over again. That's like somebody telling you over and over that you're hungry. It's not helpful at all.

The train was in-between stops and the doors were closed. But unlike the bus, we couldn't just hop off. Liability, I suppose.

So I resigned to the fact that I'm going to be late, very very late and kept working on my crossword puzzle.

That's when the guy across the aisle, who was sleeping this whole time, woke up and pulled out a big hunk of quartz from his coat pocket. It was the size of a large potato (russet, if you must), or a Nintendo DS, for those modern kids out there.

Who carries a quartz that big around. He was shining a bright penlight onto it, which is what caught my eye. It looked like a special quartz-viewing light. If he weren't so stoned (pardon the pun) he looked like he knew what he was doing and I could have mistaken him for a gemologist. (Not really.)

Then he started to speak to it. Or maybe he was thinking out loud. Nonetheless, he put his feet up on the seat like a little kid and kept caressing it and staring into it like it was a fascinating creature. Nothing could penetrate the concentration of this guy.

As odd as it sounds, thank god he was who he was. Because last week I found myself seated in front of a very vocal bigot. He asked a young guy how his "Maker was doing" and when the guy said "what" he repeated calmly,

"Satan. How's he doing today. Isn't that your maker?" and chuckled.

He mumbled about the Fourth and Fifth Reich (?), chanted "Heil, heil!" and repeatedly played canned laughter from a handheld device that he'd point at the back of my head. Each time the maniacal guffaw sounded, I would jump in my seat but tried to keep it together by focusing on my crossword. Oddly enough one of the clues I had already filled was "swastika".

Even though I was on a train car full of "minorities", and that train was running through the heart of one of the most liberal-minded cities in this country, I was still frightened that he might suddenly strike me. His hatred was so incredibly palpable to me, I may as well been a black boy walking alone on a dirt road in rural Mississippi in 1963.

So yes, give me a boy stroking his quartz over a people-hater on the train any day.

I took this photo, not because I wanted to ridicule him, but because I had to text to my colleagues that I was very much stuck on the train and this was happening. Every day I tell them about a woman who was looking at photos of herself in lingerie, a businessman who kept picking out his underwear out of his suit in front of me, the 3-month old pitbull that rested his wee head on my arm or the yo-yo crazed senior who kept showing off his skillz. Because I don't think they really believe me when I tell them about all the crazy shit I see on the train every day, I had to at least chronicle it when I can. I got to work an hour later w/ an alibi.

Ah, how I cherish the camera phone, satellite service and an unsuspecting subject.

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