Why This Blog is So Necessary to Humanity

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Endeavours in Escaping Encroaching Conversation on the Train

I love my commute. I love seeing sides of the country I would not have otherwise seen if I didn’t take the train. I love to watch the busy streets and the quiet grassy expanses as we zoom by. I appreciate the sense of community and like to ‘people watch’ in silence…maybe exchange a cordial ‘Good morning’ with a smile…but that is the limit of my capacity for social interaction with strangers. Anything further and my level of discomfort rises by the second. I usually use my commute for reading or quiet reflection. However, some people use their commute to take advantage of the inevitable closeness to other human beings and use it to force their friendship upon you whether or not you have any common interests, occupations, chemistry or vacancy for a ‘bff’.

Because you are trapped in a compartment ending the conversation is not as simple as finding an excuse to run away. If you are lucky, your stop isn’t far off…however my commute is a minimum of 40 minutes and when I become ensnared in conversation that exceeds the limit of social decency at the beginning of my trip I am usually ready to throw myself on to the tracks by the end.

No matter how hard I try I cannot escape the inevitable awkwardness that comes from one party being desperately eager for conversation and the other party suffering from the inability to connect or identify with the other’s conversational pitch.

I have a well thought-out plan of action when it comes to strategically positioning myself on the train so I am not in the way and not as likely to expose myself as the slightly anti-social creature that I am. I will usually opt for the single seater all the way at the back of the train or place myself in the window seat of a completely vacant row. When there is no single seater or vacant row available, I will stand near the door out of the way of the usual flow of incoming ‘people-traffic’.

Along with my strategic seat placement I will generally keep my nose deeply wedged between the pages of a book as well as keeping my trusty headphones firmly lodged all the way down into my eardrums. You know…just in case anyone got any ideas.

Yet STILL…this is sometimes not enough…and due to my innate need to not appear to be a complete a-hole…once engaged I have an extremely difficult time cutting loose no matter how many superfluous turns the conversation takes.

All encounters start the same. You suddenly become aware of a tingling sensation brought on by another passenger’s questionably long staring at the side of your head.

Your grip on your book tightens…your jaw clenches. You know that if the person enters your line of sight for even a millisecond all will be lost.

You do your best to keep your eyes on the pages of your book…but all concentration is lost. You are desperately hoping that he or she will give up their attempt to pull you from your reading…or at least your apparent reading. Even over your music you hear them beginning to speak.

If it were possible to play dead, I would. However spontaneously keeling over in public generally leads to mass panic and atrociously expensive trips in the ambulance. So that’s not an option.

You remember in a sudden wave of relief that you still have your headphones in and that may serve as enough of a deterrent once no response is given. Sometimes it is enough….you are hoping this will be another one of those times.

Until…you feel…the tap.

If you didn't pick up on this before...I have an extreme aversion to unwanted physical contact. When this happens it’s as though a thousand angry fire alarms go off at once while I am simultaneously plunged into the gnashing jaws of the ravenous Kraken pulverizing the life out of me and forcing my blood and vitals up into my head until I inevitably suffocate on a mix of the merciless sea water and my own innards in a terrifically melodramatic fashion.

In other words…don’t touch me.

Anyway. The person touches me and now despite all my rage…I’m still just a rat in the cage of social decency. So I must call of the guards, lower my defenses, remove my headphones and hope to God it is something important like the train is on fire or they just captured a real life Articuno.

But it is never something important.

And here we go. We are now lost on a winding trail beginning in peachy pleasantries that suddenly turn into a hailstorm of pointless banter pinning you to the middle of the road leaving you crippled and unable to move forward or turn back.

You cannot run away.
You cannot simply take another seat without looking like a complete donkey.
You have to be clever. You have to booby trap the trail and slowly lure them into it.  
The problem is that I have no idea how to do this…so it all leads to an unavoidable state of panic and unease.

 At this point I have no idea what to say. The ridiculousness of the situation leads to a colossal brain-fart which results in a long period of silence…

 Apparently only detectable by you…

This is painful enough to scramble your thoughts like her ‘most-favouritest scrambled eggs’ from that diner you have never heard of on that street that you have also never heard of making you incapable of veering the conversation towards a more pursuable topic and also incapable of locating the safest exit route back to your place of peace.

So you are caught in an infinite loop of conversational bids and half-hearted responses in the form of one word answers and weak, throaty whimpers as you slowly descend into madness and the plastic coated chair backing of your throne of jabbering doom.

Depending on the time of the month…my willingness to submit to the invasion of my personal space and quiet time is significantly hindered. Sometimes despite my lack of better judgement…I rebel.

Sometimes the moment the conversation takes the briefest pause I push my face back into my book and read with highly exaggerated ferocity.

The moment he or she tries to forge another path to verbal interaction I gaze off into the opposite direction as though completely lost in thought about whatever I was reading.

Like…really lost.

So lost that I can no longer see, hear or identify anything outside of my so-very-deep state of contemplation.

Other times I pretend to be a mute…

Or conversation cock-block by blocking out the offender with the bottom of my coffee cup.

And last but not least, I do in fact play dead. Sort of.

The moment I spot the conversationalist in the corner of my eye I immediately begin to fain sleepiness and pretend to gradually nod off.

This has been a recent favourite that has spared me from other plans of attack like spontaneously bursting into song in order to inflict equal discomfort or begin talking to an imaginary friend that lives under my chair.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why I Just Can’t Be A Hero

I’ve always known I could never be a super hero for the obvious reason. I mean, I have zero super powers right? So that pretty much rules that out in insulting permanent ink.

However, up until recently I have been operating under the assumption that if ever given the opportunity to do anything heroic I could find it within myself to rise to the occasion. I now know this to be thoroughly untrue.

I’ve had moments in the past where I had the chance to do something every-day heroic and failed…like giving directions to a blind lady using hand gestures and the time I could have saved the day by covering someone’s shift...but I opted to hide indoors for no other reason than I was ‘peopled-out’ and behind on my Dragonball Z. These should have been decent indicators of my lack in valour but somehow I still managed to limp along in my daily life on the false leg of hope that I might somehow save the day eventually.

All of this changed the other day when I was on the train.

I was standing on the train that day as there were no open rows of seats (I feel funny to plonk down next to someone and essentially hem them in against the window or side panel) and I took my usual ‘no seat’ position right near the door and gripped the handle bar as the train rattled and swung all over the place. I had in my headphones and I completely zoned out as I stared at nothing in particular through the door's window. I don’t know where my mind was. I’m guessing that it was comfortably dozing in the space between the lyrics of my Pearl Jam playlist and my faint recollection that I was still in public and not in my bed so I shouldn’t nod off.

Somehow from this nowhereland I vaguely acknowledged the fact that we had reached yet another stop and I continued to stare blankly out at the street. People pushed into the train but I had tucked myself strategically in a way that I was neither in the way or in a place that anyone would want to stand. So I continued to meander between being semi-conscious and completely oblivious of my surroundings…that includes the straggler cyclist who was evidently fumbling with his bicycle.

I zoned in enough for a moment to think to myself, ‘He’s moving slowly…’ and then off I went again into space. I zoned in again to think ‘Hm…he might not make it…he should probably push the button to hold the door.’ Again, I went off into la-la land.
I continued to stare blankly in his direction until the scene had already played out.

The poor cyclist tried to quickly scramble through the train doors while holding his bike with both hands but it was too late and the train doors had closed on him as he was going through them.
The tail end of the thought ‘He should probably push the button’ morphed into ‘Someone should probably push the button because the door is closing’ but I was still a bit absent to what was really happening in front of me…until the pained look thrown in my direction by his partially squashed face alerted me to the fact that I was the jackass by the “Open Door” button and I allowed the poor man to be wedged between the doors like a fat kid on a playground slide.

When it finally dawned on me that I was being called to action to end this poor man’s suffering, I did so in a state of panic from the sudden jar to consciousness from my dreamworld. I proceeded to frantically slap the button and everything around it like I had flippers for hands. It was a pathetic display. Not to mention that the whole ordeal had me shaking for 10 minutes and drowning in a pool of self-condemnation and guilt. It was my moment…my chance to make someone’s life a little bit better and I completely missed it for no apparent reason whatsoever. Thankfully the man didn’t want to murder me.

Now that the truth is out in the open I am noticing more tell-tale signs that I could just never be a hero.

Like I mentioned, I don’t have super powers or even remotely quick reaction time.  If I somehow acquired an incredible sum of money I still couldn’t be like Batman or Ironman.

Take the scene in Batman Forever where Batman painstakingly deciphers The Riddler’s riddles that he keeps imposing on his property. There is no way in hell I would have the patience for that.

Here is how the scene would play out:

I could never be Ironman because I’m allergic to most metal. Therefore apart from the obvious, the shrapnel that the bad guys put in my chest would kill me regardless of my ability to keep it from impaling my heart…or it would at least leave me really fucking itchy and I’d spend my days painstakingly trying to develop the best way to administer anti-itch cream internally instead of focusing on more important things like…oh I don’t know…building my hypoallergenic suit and privatizing world peace?

I also don’t speak more than one language unless you count Pig Latin. So being someone like Black Widow is out of the question.

I could never be the Hulk because I’m just not smart enough. I’ll never have access to the sort of things which result in lab accidents capable of producing something more impressive than catching the table on fire or really stubborn sleeve stains.

Now being Spiderman is possible. I am definitely skilled enough to get bitten by a spider. However, Spiderman is male and girls just don’t respond to performance
enhancers in the same way that men do.  Knowing my luck I would end up displaying all of the shitty side effects of the spider bite like getting really freaking hairy spider legs, the big ass abdomen along with some rare blood disease and dark urine.
Sorry world…there is no way I am coming to save you in that condition.

I couldn’t be the Flash because women are twice as likely than men to develop knee problems from running so I wouldn’t even need an arch nemesis to eventually be thwarted.

I couldn’t be Captain America because I only have a tourist Visa.

After much deliberation it seems that the only hero that I could probably be is Catwoman…

...and that is nothing to be proud of.