Friday, January 11, 2008

Baltimore Stories:: HEADS OR TAILS

Notes from Thursday's expedition to see The Future is Unwritten at The Charles

-The train barreling to my stop is only going to North Avenue, one stop short of my destination. 12 people climb onto the train, leaving me plus one homeless man, at the stop. I have an excessive stash of Daim candy in my purse and feel unexpectedly guilty as he inconspicuosly picks through trash on the opposite platform. It was 69 degrees at noon, but it's depressingly cold at 5:50 p.m. (TAILS)

-The next train arrives at 6:15 p.m. (TAILS) but it's empty (HEADS) save for a large man showing a woman how to use her mace. This is endlessly fascintating to me: he is incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable. They don't seem to know each other (HEADS).

-At the next stop the man takes out a cigarrette. I watch him intensely, waiting for him to light it inside the train. He begins to talk about politics and his language becomes exponentially more "colorful." I want to smack the cigarette out of his mouth, watching it bounce up and down wildly (TAILS).

-The train breaks down twice between Woodberry and North Avenue (TAILS). When we arrive most of the people from Lutherville get on this train. They look worn out and irritated that it took so long for this train to arrive (TAILS).

-I arrive at the first stop that will connect to Penn Station. It should have taken 20 minutes, but it took an hour (TAILS). The driver warns incoming passengers that this train is breaking (HEADS).

-The opposite platform is filled with commuters. I think this is good, that they are going to Penn Station. They are all commisterating about the wait, which means the Penn train is bound to come soon, right?! NO. Two Timonium bound trains arrive before 7:30 (TAILS).

-When I arrive and exit Penn Station, commuters have lined the sidewalk to get into cabs. I finally find someone who isn't on a cell phone and ask which direction is 1700 Charles Street. The man is friendly and gives perfect directions. Which it turns out, I didn't need, because I was a block away. Not the point (HEADS). (I arrive as the credits begin, hooray!)

-The Penn train empties when it arrives at the station two hours later, except for two women who are huddled in the seat. The train sits for 20 minutes while I attempt to read City Paper. Eventually their conversation is so distracting that I can't read the feature. The main woman has a scraggly voice. She makes grandiose claims about her life, to which the more sober woman says, "YOU'RE LYING YOU'RE LYING," and the other says, "ASK ANYONE, AM NOT" a hundred times. When I leave I find out both are no more than 80 lbs. (TAILS)

-The next train is full. Everyone is tired and silent. Eventually three males enter the train, and several minutes later I'm distracted by one's wild movements with a switchblade. He is making vague gestures and makes me nervous. We make eye contact and he starts to pick at his nails with the switchblade. Throughout the next twenty minutes he makes clownish faces. There are 16 people on the train--14 are awake--and no one seems to notice his previous motions or current actions (TAILS).

-There are 19 people on the platform. They are not bothered by increasing erratic behavior. Which is cool since the blotter reports that Monday, two girls got into a scuffle on a light rail platform. When things go wrong it seems to be at the North Avenue stop; maybe people think that's where one goes to get stabbed, or murdered, and feel better here in the suburbs (TAILS)?

-At the stop I count 18 people. The guy paces, making motions in general, with switchblade, which go ignored. I face the road to watch for the bus but occasionally check his location, which I eventually lose. I abandon plans for cheap greasy food on York Road in favor of taking the 12, which faces my apartment (TAILS).

-The bus driver is sweet to everyone who boards, despite an old man's claim, "NO ONE IS GOIN' TO STELLA MARIS" (the end of the 12) (HEADS). This makes for further proof that I have never had a 12 driver I didn't like.

-I decide on my walk to my apartment that this guy has deliberately psyched me out and won. I'm pissed. Asshole (TAILS). I feel stupid.

DOUBLE TAILS:: MTA is steppin' up its security. But only near schools because juveniles are to blame for all problems. There's no denying that the incidents last month were perpetrated by minors, but it still seems unfair, in general, to blame them. I just want more, everywhere. Especially if dropouts are more suseptible to violent acts, then why are the measures near school grounds?

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