Have you ever seen someone sleep on public transport?
I will never understand the psyche of someone who’s able to sleep so comfortably out of their own home, on less than comfortable public transportation, at that. I can never open my mouth so wide in public – my mother always told me things will fly into your mouth if you open it widely in public – I know, Mom’s as strange as me.
But we all know the score. Slack jaw, mouth agape and moving slightly. Eyes closed and head bowed as if in a silent prayer (or thrown back in wild abandon). And the leaning. Oh God, the leaning.
Last week, while I was on the train, I was privvy to a sleeper on the seat next to me. When I first got on, the dude was wide awake. Unsuspectingly, I took my seat next to him and pulled out my book, ready for the long ride ahead. However, not 5 minutes had passed when I was greeted with what seemed like a snort from a pig. Reeling in horror, I realized that the offensive sound had come from the mouth of my tired friend.
Why call him a friend?
Well, he must be close to me because as far as I know, people who aren’t close to me don’t just lay their heads on your shoulder – which is what he did 5 minutes after emitting the snort!
Now, I’m a great believer in personal space and this space invader was making me really uncomfortable. On top of that, everyone else in the train seemed wide awake and aware of what was happening to me except Mr. Sleepy Hollow. As his head leaned down further and further, I felt like I was trapped in a bad movie that everyone had been forced to go see. Everyone was looking, everyone knew what was going down but nobody did anything at all.
It was time for me to formulate a plan.
Obviously physical force would be required – the man would have to be moved. I had had enough of this shoulder invasion and on top of that, I feared his hair cream would start staining my shirt (I have many irrational fears, this was one of them – right up there with squirrels jumping into my pants; don’t ask.)
And so, in full view of my audience who now had their attention transfixed to my plight like they were watching a penguin fight a shark on Discovery or something, I slowly, ever-so-gently, yet persuasively, leaned back.
Yup, like Fat Joe said, I leaned back.
I could feel a carload of train passengers tense up – was he going to succeed?
I made some progress; the tension in the train car mounted.
He moved; I could almost imagine some people gasping.
And a bit more; everyone in the train held their breath.
Until finally …
The train lurches to a stop and because of the momentum, the dude slams, head first, into the clear plastic seperator next to his seat with a loud thud.
Of course he wakes up. What kind of story did you think this was?
I could hear some people sniggering in the train and of course, Mr. Sleepy turns to look at me – he knows. Oh yes, he knows. So what do you do in a situation like this? My mind told me to look him straight in the eye, steel myself up and say, “Yes, I pushed you over. So what?”
Of course, those who know me will know that my mind is one of the many things in my life I ignore the most.
For some reason, I got up out of my seat instead, stood up, grabbed a handrail and pretended I was alighting at the next stop. It’s strange, I know but it’s also true. Mr. Sleepy continued to stare at me except now, he was rubbing his head where it had hit the plastic separator.
Of course I felt guilty.
Of course I wanted to explain.
Of course I did none of that.
What I did do, is take a picture of him with my phone instead. Why? Because shortly after the incident, the dude went right back to sleep – and with wild abandon as well! So anyway, Mr. Sleepy, if this is you, I’m sorry, dude. I didn’t mean to push you so hard – in fact, it isn’t even my fault, it was the train’s.
May you rest in peace for as long as the train journey lasts.
And for God’s sake, try to keep that mouth closed before something really flies in.