I really thought he was going to hit her. I was standing there minding my own business, just people watching. Heck, it was the drunken-hour on the train out of town, so you know there was some good stuff that just happened, or was about to happen. I held on to the poles on either side of me, because sitting down I just might miss something.
There was a bright blue plastic tarp covering something that was moving underneath in the handicapped seat just to my right. Every once in a while, the lady would readjust her tarp and I could see her face. She looked sleepy.
The train would stop for about five seconds at each station, so you had to be on your toes if you were getting on or off. At the next station, a young Hispanic boy (about 18) got on and stood next to me by the doors. He was smoking a cigarello. You know, the stinky, cheap, cigar substitute? Well, turns out there’s no smoking on the train. I found this out because a elderly deaf mute woman seated to my left got up to tell him to put it out.
Ok. So this was the first time I’ve ever seen a deaf mute elderly woman get aggressive toward a young Hispanic man for any reason. She kept mouthing words that I couldn’t understand, making scary faces and very determined gestures with her hands all the while. The young boy kept smoking and saying things like “This is Chicago…just chill out.” She obviously didn’t understand and continued with her rant.
Lesson No. 1: Don’t speak aggressively to anyone after 11pm at night. They will only be aggressive back and you really don’t want that.
I thought for sure the boy was going to hit the old woman to get her to leave him alone. All for a smoke. It was more of the point behind it: “Let me do whatever I want, regardless of the rules, because that way I’m in charge of my life, and not just living according to whatever someone else thinks I should do.”
The lady finally left the train at the next stop, but not before “yelling” at another man who had his leg sitting too far out into the aisle, or perhaps it was because he was talking on his cell phone. I’m not sure what her point was. She sure was agitated. I wonder what happened to her throughout her life (or maybe just that day) that made her that way?
When she was gone, the boy put out the cigarello against the wall of the train and stood waiting beside me. I decided to break the ice and start a conversation with the young man. “Boy, that was a bit crazy, huh?” He looked relieved to have someone break some of the tension, like he was maybe feeling a bit embarrassed for trying to make his point with the old lady.
We chatted for a couple more stops. He was a good kid underneath it all, just flexing his muscles and will-power a bit, to hopefully find the line to move toward where he can kick, someone will notice, and then perhaps even kick back.
It got a lot quieter after the young man got off the train. I looked around at the remaining few passengers. One man smiled at me, as if he just wanted to connect with someone who had also just seen what happened. I smiled back and rolled my eyes. The blue tarp rustled and I asked God to protect and bless the lady underneath. What a trip.
Lesson No. 2: Sometimes we kick just to see if someone will kick back.