Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"That's Disgusting:" A True Train Tale

The following occurred on the first Friday of 2014, on the Orange Line T (one of Boston's subway lines).

Station of Origin

Got on train and stood beside row of seats. Man on seat closest to me is holding on to an orange suitcase. The woman across from him is holding a suitcase, too.

Suddenly, man gets up, walks over to the woman, spits in her eye, and sits back down.

"Really?" the woman asks furiously as she wipes her eye. "Really?"

I assume that they know each other and are fighting.

"I have never been spit on before in my life," the woman continues. "And by a stranger!"

Scratch that, they do not know each other, this man is disturbed and continuing the fine Boston tradition of spitting on people in public transportation. Fortunately, it is cold so I have my turtleneck covering half my face, thus reducing the surface area for targeting if he decides to spit some more.

"What's wrong with you?" the woman asks. He grips his suitcase and twitches, mumbling.

"You have issues," she says. "You clearly have issues."

Next Stop

Another woman comes up to the man, leans down, and says firmly, "That's disgusting." As she walks out the doors, she passes the spit-upon woman and says, "I'm sorry."

The train doors close. We start moving again. People who have seen the spitting incident stand around awkwardly.

"You should get off this train," the woman says to the man, becoming more visibly upset.

"You should get off this train," he responds.

"I will," she counters. "My stop is coming up."

Then she glances over a few rows down and has a conversation with a tall dude who seems to say, "Do you want me to punch him in the face?"

Stop Three

We roll to a stop. A burly T worker comes down the aisle. "There's been an assault?" he rumbles.

The woman puts up her hand. "I was spit on!" she says.

"Is he still here?" the worker, who is likely the train driver, asks.

I am still standing beside the spitter, so I point frantically at him. The T driver begins to lumber in his direction.

The man stands up with his suitcase and punches the woman in the face as he runs out the door.

Other passengers start yelling that she needs medical attention. Her nose is bleeding, but she keeps assuring people she's okay. Everyone with a tissue pack is crowding around her and offering their nosebleed solution. "I've never been punched before," she reveals. At one point, she even apologizes for the train being delayed.

"Don't apologize," a fellow rider says immediately. "This is not your fault."

Some people are asking the driver to chase the man, who had booked it down the platform. "I can't touch him," the driver responds. He turns to the woman and gives her a choice: keep the train at the station so we could all wait for the police to arrive and hunt down the escaped crazy person, or disembark and give her statement.

She chose to disembark. The guy she had been speaking to earlier, the one who I thought volunteered to punch the offender in the face, turns out be a victim as well -- he had also been punched in the face, apparently prior to the spitting. Someone must have hit the emergency call button after the first punch, or the high-velocity, close-range sputum.

Both punchees follow the T worker out of the train.

Moments later, the doors close and the T continues on its merry way. "We apologize for the delay," says the loudspeaker.

We all stand there. "What is wrong with people?" asks a woman nearby.

I have no answer for her.


I haven't seen this covered in the news, so I guess it must have slipped under the radar. The polar vortex that has killed 17 people in the midwest so far overshadows all.

At this point, only doge can express my feels:

On the plus side, it was heartening to see people rush to help when they finally understood what was happening.

So...Happy New Year?