Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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What the L

I was standing on the L platform the other day during morning rush hour. I had just missed a train and I’d walked down the platform in order to board the last car of the next train, so no one was standing within 30 feet of me. That is, until Mr. Weird came along. He was a fellow in perhaps his late 50s, reasonably well groomed, wearing a decent collared shirt and slacks. He looked as if he were certainly headed for work. He came walking toward me on the platform, then closer, and closer still, finally stopping less than a foot away and slightly behind me. While I don’t know for sure what his game was, what seemed to be happening was that I was standing in his spot on the platform and his way of dealing with it was to stand so close to me that I would become uncomfortable and move out of his spot. So of course, I stood stock still and never glanced at him.

We stood that way for the next few minutes, neither one of us moving an inch, until the next train began to pull into the station. As luck would have it, I was standing precisely where the doors of the car were about to open. As the train pulled to a stop, Mr. W. began an attempt to inch his feet in front of mine, even though I was already standing no more than a few inches from the edge of the platform! When the doors of the train opened, I darted in, right in front of my pursuer, and took an empty seat. Mr. W. took a seat near mine and spent the entire ride to the Loop scrutinizing everyone who entered our end of the car. He also pulled several snacks out of his pocket in the course of our trip, and as he consumed each item, he threw the wrappers onto the floor of the car.

A few stops before my exit, Mr. W. suddenly struck up a conversation with the man next to him. The man seemed quietly taken aback at suddenly being presumed upon in this manner, and he responded mostly with monosyllabic replies and grunts. The one thing that did catch my ear was when Mr. W. remarked that he was on his way to his job – as a professor at Columbia College in the South Loop. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether that was true, but for the sake of Columbia College, I hope he was lying! In either case, he’s not doing much for Columbia’s reputation.

I know that in the bigger picture, there are far worse incidents on the L every hour of every day. But that doesn’t make Mr. W. any less weird, and it’s still more than a sleepy commuter such as I should have to deal with on a Friday morning!

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