So I had kind of a difficult train ride home from my classes in Lower Manhattan this morning. I boarded the 2 train on Chambers Street and immediately noticed a dude hanging out between the cars, which is obviously very dangerous and not allowed. Once the train started moving he opened the doors and came into the cars, and he was HUGE. A very, very big guy, and he sat down on my side, just a few seats away from me. And dude was weird--he kept shifting around and moving around and turning and staring at me. I got a weird vibe from the whole thing, and I believe in listening to my instincts, so at the next stop I moved to the next train down.
This train was also relatively empty but I noticed a bag lady sitting at the far corner so I sat down in the middle and pulled out my book. I read and noticed a family came on at the next stop--a mom and 3 young kids (a girl around age 6, two boys around age 4-5). And I also noticed the bag lady was quite vocal, screaming--literally screaming--about how YOU FUCKED XYZ PERSON and that sort of thing. As I was noticing this, I saw the mom noticing it. The kids, especially the two young boys, looked freaked out. The mom leaned forward and was telling the kids "the lady is mentally ill--that means she is sick in the brain. We're going to switch cars at the next stop." She was handling it very well, very casual, but the kids were still unnerved by the whole thing so I leaned over and started conversing with them. They had on Irish rugby tee-shirts so I asked them about that. "I really like your shirts. I have visited Ireland and I just love that country. Have you ever been there?" As it turned out, they had--all 3 kids are half-Irish and visit the country twice a year. We entered into a grand conversation about Ireland and Mom gave me a grateful look. When we pulled into the next station Mom and the kids and I exited the car--they went in one direction, I went in the other (toward the last car, the one in which I typically want to be when the train pulls into 110th Street).
This turned out to be THE WORST car of all three. JFC this was seriously the Freak Train. Cat Stevens had the Peace Train, I had the Freak Train. There was a guy in the corner, young guy, couldn't have been older than very early 20s if that, with a bike. Eventually he picked up his bike and started walking to the other end of the car, and didn't give a shit about the other passengers. Like, he was actively trying to brush up against us with his bike. I pulled up as he passed, and then he approached an older dude--maybe late 50s--and just started swinging at him, screaming at him, slamming the glass of the windows next to the guy's face. EVERYONE flipped out and I remember yelling "Jesus fucking Christ!" and grabbing the pepper spray I always carry. The guy was screaming at the older dud, and screaming at us. He still had the bike. He was kind of menacing the car with the bike but also kind of looking around for validation. The older guy was terrified--we all were--but would not move and GOOD FOR HIM. Because fuck anti-social shits like this dude. Fuck them hard. Anti-Social Shit came toward me, looking as though he was going to throw the bike at me or something, and I said "If you come near me, I will spray you."* What I really wanted to do was call him on his shit, push his buttons, but I figured it was better not to engage. He did recognize the spray and kept his distance.
He and I had a three-or-so minute staredown as we approached 110th Street. At one point he started to lurch toward me and I thought he was going to throw the bike at me. He was also babbling about how the older dude "was lucky" and "I can't even walk down the STREET!!!" I just made sure he saw that pepper spray. Dude, I don't GAF about your problems. The moment you start threatening some older dude with violence, you lose my sympathy. When we pulled in of course he ran across the platform like the coward he is to catch the downtown train. Another dude and I found a transit officer and reported the whole thing. (I doubt anything will happen.) The other dude and I were bonding about this sort of thing--it was actually rather sweet, there was a sort of world-weary "New York transit, ain't this some shit?" And he pointed out that my backpack was unzipped and did I want him to zip it up?
Honestly, the most remarkable thing about it was that ten minutes later, I'd completely put it out of my mind instead of worrying endlessly over it.
*And part of me later realized--you should've said "if you go near anyone, I will spray you." I had a weapon, I should've used it to protect the rest of the car. At least I was able to protect my half of the car.