Now, I’ve been taking the train about 2-3 times per week for my work commute since 2004.
During a span of time from January, 2006, through July, 2007, I took it every day due to some, ahem, “alcoholic misadventures” which resulted in my not having a driver’s license at all (as in utterly revoked, bastard), but the rest of the time I’ve elected to use it in lieu of driving my car. Deliberately choosing public transportation as a way of getting around is somewhat a marginalizing activity in this city’s car culture, but there are those of us who simply hate driving in bumper to bumper traffic for hours each day. And look at it this way: public commuting in a big city is a great lab experiment in human nature and has provided me much spectacle which I’ve translated into sporadic bloggery of mine.
Yesterday was no exception.
As noted, I’ve taken the train for about 13 years. I have yet to encounter an event such as I did yesterday morning. I know it happens, but I’ve never witnessed it, thankfully. It is one of those horrible potential happenings you must consider when taking the train through such populated areas of this city, but you stick your (my) head in the sand a don’t think about such things. With any luck…
Yesterday, on the Red Line, heading North, the morning commute. The train is pretty packed by the time I board it upstream so I invariably end up having to stand amid a flock of perfumed and/or sweaty greasy people. I stare down and avoid meeting eyes in the best autist manner possible. I was “blessed” in the respect that I was able to stand against the sliding doors; this is a good thing when you have no choice but to stand. You abut the doors and thus, are not pressed, sardined by other people, and it’s a more “private” manner of standing. So I was having a good commute, standing, staring blankly as one must do during a commute on the Red Line in Los Angeles.
Minding my own business, narrowed field of vision, waiting for my exit to creep up in a few minutes. Waiting. Zoning out.
Then, at the left corner of my eye, a large patch of white liquid, interspersed with ungodly chunks of sumting, violently tidal waved into my field of vision; it coated the subway floor near the area reserved for bicycles. The emetophobe that I am took only a millisecond to realize that someone had tossed their cookies here in the fucking train. Inside the motherfucking train, vomited all over the floor.
I fled like my life was in danger. Fled!
I ran far to the middle of the long car, far from the scene of the revulsion. I firmly planted myself at the door and looked out the window, frozen, holding my breath as much as possible, for the the most vile aspect of vomit is the odor. The stench. A group of people who were surrounding me earlier started flocking to my new area as well, but they, most likely not emetophobes, did not feel impelled to literally “run” from the scene, but merely to walk away calmly because really, no one, even those unafflicted by emetophobia, like to be in the vicinity of vomit.
Us emetophobes, though: it is the end of the world when something like this happens. Encountering a vomit situation anywhere is horrible, but on a train it is aboslutely a nightmare. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to run. You are in this tin can and now you’re sharing space with a big puddle of stomach hurl. I waited out the rest of the commute affixed to that door, that escape hatch. At each stop, when the doors slid open, I would stick my head out to breathe deeply since I was allowing myself minimal breaths when the door was closed just to avoid having to…smell…that…vomit. Which is a fate worse than death for some of us.
More than anything, at such moments, an emetophobe fixates on one thing: who did done puke??? The “victim” represents a mesmerizing dark lure, for that is half the phobic adventure.
I ran away so quickly, I didn’t stick around to note whose mouth that pond of abdominal spew issued from. The only person I could think of was the strange askew Black dude who was walking around the area with his hands arms tucked/hidden inside his t-shirt. He was mental, to be sure; he might have been homeless, maybe not. At one point, he spit on the floor and wiped it down with his foot. Maybe he was the puker.
And maybe not.
The mystery continues and the image is burned in my mind.