I just sat next to a new and different kind of crazy person on the T. I don’t know how you’d even begin to categorize his behavior, apart from “bizarre”.
He looked perfectly normal as I sat down. Smelled perfectly normal too—that is, no noticeable aroma. He began his performance art by poking at the backpack of the person standing in front of him, using a black Pilot V5 rollerball. He probed at the zippers for a while, without getting any reaction. Finally, he tugged on his victim’s T-shirt.
“Did you see me push my pen into that backpack?”
“Is it yours?”
The victim considered. He was wearing the backpack.
“No, it’s your pen, isn’t it? I don’t have a pen.”
“Is the bag yours?”
There was a pause as the victim allowed the stupidity of the question to wash over him.
“It’s just that it looks exactly like my backpack.”
The conversation seemed to stop at this point, so the crazy guy asked for directions to Porter T stop. The victim was unable to help, so the crazy guy turned his attention to me.
He started by trying to pull my backpack out from between my legs. He had his pen, and was clearly ready to do some probing. I blocked him with my leg. He seemed angry.
“Is that your backpack?”
“You could say ‘Hey, that’s my bag’, you know.”
I decided not to dignify that with a response.
“It’s just that it looks exactly like my bag.”
I considered this. My backpack is black and grey; the first victim’s was bright yellow. Let’s just say I was skeptical. I said nothing, and the crazy guy muttered something critical about how I shouldn’t ignore him.
He reached into a plastic bag, and started unwrapping some candles in cylindrical glass vases. He scattered broken glass over the floor of the subway carriage as he did so—he’d smashed at least one of the vases. I couldn’t help glancing at where the glass had gone.
“What, did I ask you to look? Did I get glass on your suit?”
I wasn’t wearing a suit. Not even close. I decided that if I was going to be criticized both for ignoring him and for paying attention to him, I might as well go back to my preferred option.
He offered the broken item for everyone to look at.
“The amazing thing is, it’s Pocahontas.”
I ignored him, in spite of further criticism. Eventually we arrived at Porter and he got off the train.
What the hell is it with the T this month? Did they shut down the local mental health ward? Are they shipping ‘em in from New York? I don’t want to appear insensitive, but really…