Saturday, May 16, 2020

the subway slumper

Was the guy drunk, or did he have a neurological condition?

Last night, I rode the subway two stops from my place of work to my residence. The across-the-ground distance is actually walkable, but I was feeling lazy, so I caught the metro instead of hoofing it. As I entered the car, a youngish man in a disheveled-looking business suit schlepped in behind me and ended up sitting next to me on an otherwise-empty bench. He could've sat anywhere, but he latched on to me. I hate being an asshole-attractor, but such is my curse (I attract talkers when I'm in movie theaters, too; assholes love me for some reason).

For the first minute of the ride, all I saw out of the corner of my eye was that the guy looked sleepy. He was slumped forward in his seat as if he wanted to doze off, but after about a minute like that, he suddenly jerked upright, fussed about groggily as he readjusted his position, then promptly slumped lower like a scoop of ice cream melting under a broiler. This happened several times: he slumped forward while seated more or less normally; he slumped sideways while trying to lie down on the subway's bench; he slumped backward until he hit the glass. An old grandmother sitting across from us quietly scowled at the young man.

What puzzled me was that the process of slump, jerk upright, slump in a different direction was occurring in weirdly rapid succession, enough to make me wonder whether I wasn't seeing some sort of medical condition, like a kind of accelerated narcolepsy. I smelled no booze wafting off the guy, so it was hard to conclude that he'd been drinking. I seriously pondered slapping him across the face just to see what reaction that would produce. Maybe what he needed was a good shock to the system. The serial slumping was disconcerting, but by the time I had dredged up a feeling of concern, it was time for me to step off the train. The doors opened; I stood up, shrugged, and stepped out, leaving him to Grandma.

Luckily, the guy didn't get up and follow me. My attractiveness to assholes has limits.

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