|Imagine running into this dude at 6:30 in the morning. Not fun, citizens. Not fun at all.
I hate people. Just flat-out hate 'em. Oh, sure, I can make exceptions for individuals. The person reading this article right now might be a great guy or gal. But a generalized, all-encompassing love for humanity? No way. People are just the worst. Why do I feel that way? Because I've gotten to know them through the miracle of public transportation.
For the last decade, it has been my privilege to work in the great city of Chicago, but I don't actually live there. Instead, like the clueless schmuck I am, I make my home in the 'burbs, specifically a community called Arlington Heights, IL about 25 miles to the north and west of the bustling metropolis. The town (technically a "village") has a reputation for being slightly upscale, and there is indeed a cluster of pretentious restaurants, theaters, boutiques, and bars downtown to cater to the upper-middle-class professionals who call Arlington Heights home. But I live in a decidedly working-class, ethnically-diverse neighborhood on the outskirts of town, far from anywhere overpriced tapas are served. My nearest neighbor is a half-deserted strip mall, and the local landscape is decorated with discarded condoms and empty Mountain Dew bottles. Because I refuse to drive into and out of the city every day, I get to my job by means of a commuter train which leaves from a station in the center of downtown Arlington Heights. I'm far enough away from that station that I have to actually drive to get there, so in addition to the thousands I shell out each year for train fare, I also pay the Village of Arlington Heights about $400 annually to park in one of its awkwardly-designed, overcrowded public lots. My total commute is about an hour each way. Hey, it's not all bad. I've gotten way more reading done in the last decade than I would have otherwise.
Every weekday morning at 6:30, you'll find me and dozens of other commuters standing patiently (or not so patiently if the weather is bad) on the asphalt-and-concrete platform which runs parallel to the train tracks. People gather at the places where they think the doors will be when the train finally comes to a stop, so there are clusters of commuters all along the side of the track with big gaps between them. But this is an inexact science at best. Depending on who's driving, the train may stop way to the left or way to the right of where it's "supposed" to be. You can never really tell. It's like a roulette wheel. Where she stops, nobody knows. Consequently, the first people to arrive at the train station are not necessarily the first people to board. The early birds tend to be in the middle of the clusters (since the clusters actually form around them), and the people who happen to be closest to the doors will likely enter the train before they do. When the train pulls into the station, I try to gauge how quickly or slowly it's moving as it approaches us, and then I reposition myself on the platform in the hopes of being closer to the doors. I don't push. I don't shove. I don't step on people's toes. But, yes, I do try to strategize a little. After all, seats on the train are at a premium that hour of the day, and it's very possible to wind up standing in the aisles or the vestibules for the entire ride. Not comfortable. A "first come, first seated" policy would be nice, but it's just not possible or practical under the circumstances. Most veteran commuters understand this and work within the system as it exists. Obviously, though, some folks still aren't clear on the concept.
|This is what Jon Favreau looks like.
Folks, it's days like this which make me lose my faith in humanity and in society. You know why? Because I could see something in this guy's eyes that let me know he did this all the time. I could just see him chewing out waitresses, cashiers, parking valets, customer service reps, and anyone else he considered "beneath" him. There was definitely an element of class warfare in this little scene of ours. His arrogance was really galling. But you know what else? I bet this strategy has worked for him in the past. He looked pretty well-off, and I'm certain he got where he is by being a bully and a tyrant. His hyper-aggression has been the key to his success, and he's been making other people miserable his whole life. And he probably works with a lot of other self-important douche bags just like himself. These guys are running the world. They're in charge. They're winning. I hate to say that, but it's true. And here it is a beautiful day, and I'm writing a rant about this human hemorrhoid instead of enjoying the late-summer weather. I had to do it, because this incident has been on my mind all day. This skidmark of a man has taken up valuable real estate in my brain since 6:30 this morning. At least I should be charging him rent!