Thursday, July 10, 2008


Tonight during my rainy commute home, the el trains were packed. Seats were rare. I prefer not to ride backwards, so as soon as the car doors opened, I made a beeline for the open seat facing forward. After I settled in I noticed that, even though people were standing, there was an open seat -- but facing the other way -- on the aisle. The gentleman sitting by the window was sound asleep. I didn't think much of it.

At the next stop, a damp-but-not-quite-soaked woman looked thrilled to find that empty seat on the aisle and dropped herself into it. Her seatmate woke up, and suddenly the reason why those in the know would rather stand than sit with him became apparent.

He began speaking animatedly, loudly and completely unintelligibly. The woman sitting beside him looked startled and tried to understand what he was saying to her. This tirade of mumbles had nothing to do with her, though. Judging by what I could make out, he was upset by how poorly his umbrella fit in its matching sheathe. (If that doesn't justify a loud, slurred fit in a public place, what does?) The woman sitting next to him went from surprise to embarrassment. She concentrated on keeping her eyes straight ahead. Being ignored didn't deter Mr. Noisy Mumbler, though. After about 10 loooong minutes, he finally wound down and fell back to sleep.

I feel guilty admitting that part of me enjoyed this. Because usually I'm the one who gets the loony seatmate.