Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I think I’m a little autistic.  This might explain why, at the Hollywood Transit Center platform, I was watching the highway traffic - and enjoying it.  In that spot, nothing but the Max tracks and a short wall separates you from the river of cars.  The river was flowing freely this morning, and the air was cool, and payday is getting close.  The blur of racing metal was soothing. 

When a Max train pulled in, I looked into it and saw a row of somber faces.  All but two or three riders were interacting with their devices.  I think I look like they do when I’m ill, or after a bad argument – not too often, I think.  Not every day. Do I?

Why, in a time when you can immediately get and hear and see anything in the world on your mobile device, is the result a peanut gallery of blahs and blues?  Laurel and Hardy movies, symphonies, brilliant lectures, a conversation with a friend on the other side of the world – all of these are at our fingertips.  The ride to work can be a vacation, an escape from the crushing blankness, if that’s what’s bothering you, Bunky.

Instead, my esteemed fellow riders appear to endure a circle of hell reserved for bad party guests, doomed to listen to white noise on their earbuds forever.  But I’m interpreting the facial expressions and body language of strangers.  They’re in a setting where they’re inclined to express as little as possible.  No doubt my insight is mostly fantasy. 

Inside the train, looking around again, I don’t believe this.  A couple is laughing.  Joking with each other.  Breaking all the morning Max rules.  How bizarre!  But they’re not really a couple – an old white guy in mud spattered overalls and a middle aged Latina in office clothes.

Hold on.  What in the name of Holy St. Michael?  Now what?  The world’s been turned upside down, there’s another odd couple, laughing it up.  Where am I?  Two couples laughing.  The hair on my neck is bristling.  Now the couples are taking turns.  This couple laughs.  That couple laughs.  

I’m sweating.  Are we in a nightclub?  We’re in a nightclub, that’s it, a floating nightclub, way, way after hours.

Breathe.  Slow down.  The truth will come through.  There it is now.  Between bouts of hilarity the masks appear.  The protection. The farmer is Grim Acceptance, his girlfriend is Resignation, and the other couple is Exhaustion and Discomfort.  So, all is well. 

Soon they all calmed down and I calmed down and we rejoined the rest of us, saving ourselves for the important day ahead. 

A big fella snored, loudly and too quickly.  That's more like it. An emergency nap, for sure, and  a tough log he was sawing.  His head fell back and his chest heaved with a sharp jerk on each breath as if he were climbing at 10,000 feet.  It’s a good thing he was lying down.  Every minute or so his eyes would open, he'd snort and instantly drop back into the nod. 

The rest of us kindly let him have his restless rest. 

The train plunged into the Sunset Tunnel.  The small lights on the tunnel wall were blipping by, lulling me.   

I’m drawn to it, the reliable, steady stream of lights.  Yeah, maybe I’m a little autistic. 

No comments:

Post a Comment