Bad Commuter

I don’t mind the hordes of people. The busy city environment is easy to deal with. There’s a certain defeatism that settles in and allows you to just shut down and shuffle along with the herd.

But DC isn’t a busy city. It’s a glorified, self-involved, hateful little town. My fellow commuters make me wonder if every single person in the city has been cast as a Dickens-inspired cripple in a high school play.

Ever since her husband died, she’s weighed 400 pounds, is sweaty and smalls like shit, and stops in doorways to answer her cellphone and scream that the reception’s bad!

Commuting in DC – whether driving (which I refuse to do) or on public transit – is a daily exercise in your ability not to poison yourself or open fire on a crowded subway platform, depending on your nationality. The Japanese suck in detergent fumes, Texans climb clocktowers and open up on everybody. The latter, of course, is more illustrative of an American trait that our Hebrew friends might call chutzpah.

By the way – the Columbine generation has greatly disappointed me. Stalk through the hallways shooting people and then shoot yourself? What the hell is that? They don’t even get mass kills, either. Charles Whitman – kitted out to the extreme with food and weapons – killed 17 people and wounded scores of them from his high perch. Yet the Columbine jack-offs only killed 13 people and wounded 20 or so and that was with a captive audience. They’re walking around sparing people and being all gay, while Whitman was just popping off at anything that moved.

So, chutzpah. A dying trait.

Not that I encourage people to go on wild shooting sprees. I just think it’s funny. And don’t give me that “what if it happened to you” line, because then it would be exciting. And I’d probably get some time off work. Oh, yeah, I’m so broken up that a dozen people got machine gunned in my department, I need permanent disability and a free shrink…practicing in the Bahamas.

Dear surviving co-workers: I remain mentally impaired due to the extreme horror of the office shooting. I’m so distressed that I’m on this beach sipping a mojito at 8am and I hope you all choke on chicken bones in your sad, lonely apartments. Also, can somebody tape Battlestar Galactica for me? Love: Nacho

Where was I? Oh, yes! Commuting. So I can’t stand these fucks. Just today, as I was on the train scribbling parts of this barely coherent post advocating school shootings, the driver announced over the PA that we would be holding at the Rhode Island Ave station for one minute because – surprise – the DC Metro is so deeply fucked it’s just about as amusing as a school shooting.

About half a dozen people whip out their cell phones and do the whole OMG gonna be laaaate!!! The train is delaaayed!!! thing.

Really? One minute? There’s something wrong with anyone who takes any sort of public transport to work and times it down to the minute but, in DC, where a broken down train can mean the end of the world for the entire fucking system, come on. I set it up so that I get to work a half hour early, if everything is running perfectly, which it never is.

But, either way…a minute? It’s the cell phone culture. Make dozens of calls while commuting just so you can constantly update the poor bastard on the other end of the line about where you’re at, what you want for dinner, etc. “I’m passing Takoma! Now I’m passing Fort Totten! Now I’m coming up on Brookland!”

See why I sit there and think about Charles Whitman and other mass murderers? My goal is to get one of those cell phone blockers. I think they’re about a hundred bucks, and they look just like a cell phone, and can block any signal within a dozen feet or so. I’ll have to pace up and down the aisle of the train car, but that’s fine. Small price to pay to shut everyone up and also make them fucking crazy without confronting them.

But I have started confronting them. It’s the slow shit that I hate. Shuffling when there’s no need to – no masses of people, plenty of room to move. The people who stop in doorways, or wait for the gates to close when entering or exiting the Metro because it’s bad luck or something to scan your fare card immediately after the person in front of you. The people who weave down sidewalks, or stand on the walking side of the escalator. The people who stop dead at the top of the escalator and stare in wonder at the display telling them when a train is coming. The people who step onto an empty train and block the door while they decide which of the sea of identical seats they want to sit in.

My confrontation is passive aggressive. I’ve decided that, simply, I just won’t stop when they do. I plow into people, clip them with my shoulder, tread heavily on their heels and toes, knock iPods and cell phones and papers out of their hands…all seemingly by accident. And I take the blame for it, too. I play the dumb schmuck. Oh, sorry, mister, not paying attention… I kowtow away from them, all giggly on the inside because I fucked up their day something awful (as their cellphone gets kicked around like the diamond during the madcap restaurant scene in Temple of Doom).

How do I get away with this and not get shot myself? Two reasons: The first is that I select my targets. The only people I fuck with are middle class, softer than clouds white people like me. We live in such a highly charged racist town, that the whites deeply fear any sort of confrontation. We’re like a bunch of wide-eyed gazelles hoping the train full of dark tigers don’t suddenly take notice. Corollary to the “pick on whitey” reason is that white people are working themselves blind at dead end jobs and, statistically speaking, taking more mood altering pills than other races. So when I slam into someone at 7am and bat their cellphone out of their hand and step on their toes as I spin away and act like I was in a another world, they’re too brain-dead to really pick up on what just happened. Doubtless, an hour later, it suddenly hits them: That guy did that on purpose!

(Consequently, I never sit in the same train car, and greatly vary the time that I arrive at the station within a 20 minute window.)

The second reason is what really gives me power – like minded commuters take advantage of the path that I forge. So you have a few busloads of slovenly fuckheads shuffling in random figure eights towards the doors to the station, which are half-open and blocked by the free newspaper people trying to shove their shit at you, and I start weaving into the fray with death in my heart. I’m spinning, turning, bumping, kicking, and pushing people aside, muttering apologies, acting surprised myself, and, every day, I turn around to find that I’m leading a flying wedge of grinning commuters. We get the window seats. We get to the doors first and fly into the train car. We have taken back the commute!

Here’s a secret: How do you get a seat all to yourself? Easy, and I’ve mastered this on the evening commute. You drink heavily from a flask and stare hard at whoever starts to sit next to you. Not a wicked, warning stare. It has to be the sort of wondrous, confused, somewhat frightened stare you would give a family of elephants when, seeing them close up, you noticed that they were all wearing huge crucifixes on gold chains around their necks. And never break the stare. If someone actually has the balls to confront you about the staring, then jerk away from them violently and act as if they’re talking in tongues.

The final stage is to look just slightly over their heads and act like something horrible’s coming up behind them. Complete with gasping, wide-eyed fear. Most people turn and, when they look back at you, it’s the calm pull from the flask and the wondrous stare again. Never, ever speak.

The big problem in DC is tourists, but they can be amusing. You want to kick them to the ground and rob them but, as that’s sadly illegal, the next best thing is to give them eccentric directions. Oh… National Airport? Yeah, that’s been closed down. Long ago. But you can get to Seat Pleasant airport! Just take the Blue Line to Seat Pleasant and ask any of the nice folks there for assistance.

At Seat Pleasant, it is legal to kick people to the ground and rob them. Then the dead tourists are PG County’s problem. See? I’m helping my city by encouraging rape and murder to move to Maryland. (Just not Montgomery County, where I secretly live and hold court with all of my wealthy white friends.)