Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Every day has a dose of crazy.  Whether it's an urgent email about the $100 that Bill Gates wants to give me for forwarding it along, someone's potty training status update on Facebook, or an altercation in the alley outside my office window, I can't escape one day without a little madness.  I personally prefer to get my daily dose of crazy out of the way early in the morning, like taking your vitamin with breakfast, if at all possible.  Fortunately, today was one of those days.  There was a rare Morning Crazy on the bus today.  Picture it . . . packed bus, swelling to the brim with hipsters, yuppies, and working wounded.  And then, just like that old song from Sesame Street "One of These Things is Not Like the Others," crazy reared his head.

Close to the front of the bus was a man who was possibly homeless, drunk, and/or mentally ill.  My jury is still out on all of the above.  At first it wasn't quite so apparent -- he was just muttering incoherently to himself.  Then he started in on his seatmate, "Me, me, I like it," he said.  When this failed to elicit a reaction, he turned up the volume a little louder, "Me, me, I like it!"  I couldn't tell if it was "Me, me," as in himself or "Mimi," as in Mariah Carey (maybe he was really happy she's finally pregnant).  But whatever it was, he wanted attention.

"ME, ME, I LIKE IT!" he said in his loud, sing-song way.  The balding, 30-something yuppy next to him replied, "Pardon me?"  Morning Crazy responded with something unintelligible.  On we ambled and the crazy intensified.  "I don't get it. I don't get it," MCrazy said.  "Pardon me, sir?" the balding seatmate replied.  "ME, ME, I LIKE IT!"he repeated over and over, until finally wearing out the hospitality of the yuppy.  "Sir, I don't want to talk to you anymore," the yuppy said. 

Finally the yuppy gave up and moved away.  The seat remained empty for a couple of stops, but this enraged MCrazy.  "I'm a Cuban American!" he yelled. "I been here 31 years!" And on he went. "I don't get it."  He was getting louder and a little bit scary, so The Hero stepped up.  Another 30-something man, who in my estimation was former (or current) military (based on his haircut, the way he talked, and his ability to remain calm in a "crisis"), sat down next to MCrazy.  And then he unleashed: "Listen, you are annoying these people and I don't care what the fuck your problem is, you need to be quiet and take your bus ride and let these people go to work."  He said this in a very quiet, even voice (which I could hear because I was sitting directly across the aisle as this transpired). 

MCrazy informed The Hero, "I'm just riding the bus. I'm trying to ride the bus.  Will you take me home?"  It was kind of sad, but The Hero was having none of it, "You need to be quiet.  I'll give you money to get home if you will just leave these people alone." (At this point, I was getting nervous that MCrazy was going to get violent.  He was practically incoherent, he was belligerent, and he didn't appear to understand that he was making everyone on the bus uncomfortable.)  "Man, I got money! I got money! I want you to take me home," MCrazy said.

This went on for a little while longer, when finally MCrazy said, "I don't know what I'm saying."  Everyone on the bus gave a visible eyeroll at this point, thinking finally he'd gotten a clue, and even The Hero said, "That's the first thing you've said that made sense."

MCrazy finally stopped talking.  And then we got to my stop.  The Hero got off the bus (as did I), so I don't know how this little fairy tale ended, but I like to imagine that it had a happy ending:  MCrazy continued on to the stop near his house, went home, and slept off whatever was ailing him.  Maybe he was having a reaction to cold medicine or had some bad clams and was slightly delirious.  Maybe he was an actor practicing a role a la Joaquin Phoenix.  Maybe he woke up at noon and realized he'd been a compete weirdo to everyone on the bus.  But whatever it was, he got my daily dose of crazy out of the way early in the day, setting the stage for me to have a rather productive workday. And that's a happy ending in itself.

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