The Confluence Part 11

August 12th, 2011 by Wordsman

The realization that you’ve wasted months of your life in a pointless exercise can lead to a wide variety of emotional reactions.  Some people are overjoyed; they find it quite liberating to discover that there’s no longer any point in going through the normal routine.  These people, though, are not by any means typical.  A much more common response is to sink into despair, to lament the loss of precious time, to wonder how you can possibly go on when everything you thought made sense suddenly doesn’t.

The old woman opted for a third option.  Her grip tightened.  “No, you don’t think, do you,” she said, lowering her voice to a whisper so that the following crescendo could be all the more dramatic.  “You people never do.  Your minds are fixed on one thing: get to the train, get to the train.  Drop your hat?  Leave it behind so you can get to the train.  Spot an old friend walking the other way?  Lower your head so you can get to the train.  Get interrupted by a woman with a simple question who only wants someone to stay and listen for a minute or two?  Ignore her.  Get to the train, get to the train, get to the goddamn train!

“I sit here every day and I watch people go by and you know what I see?  I see a thousand people standing within ten feet of each other, each in her own separate world.  You wear headphones so you don’t have to listen.  You stare at your phones so you don’t have to look.  You cover your mouths and noses—even though it doesn’t smell that bad—so you don’t even have to breathe!  You love your routine so much that you seal off your senses, just in case there might be something out there that could shake things up!  It seems like your sense of touch is the only thing you haven’t figured out how to shut off.  And if physical pain is the only way to get through to you people, then that’s what I’m going to have to use!”

You might find it odd that Peter Hamlin, who had never met a situation he couldn’t argue his way out of, would sit there in silence while this little old lady rained abuse on him.  You could say it was because he was still half-asleep.  You could blame the fact that part of his brain was still operating under the impression that he was being mugged (he certainly hadn’t come up with any more likely theory to take its place).  Really, though, he was simply stunned.  He was learning—as was the woman—that all the prepared speeches in the world are no match for an extemporaneous tirade driven by an overflow of genuine emotion.

“All I’m asking for is a few minutes.  You all think that a few minutes of your time are more precious than anything!  That just a couple minutes’ delay would upset your schedule, throw your ‘harmonious balance’ out of whack, and ruin your day.  A couple minutes!  Do you have any idea how long I’ve been down here?  Two hundred thirty-three days!  You’d better believe my harmonious balance is out of whack!  I’m starting to forget what the outside world sounds like!”

Speaking of the music of the underground, the woman’s voice—despite its phenomenal volume—could not drown out the noise of the train pulling into the station.  Amidst the sea of confusion, dotted with islands of desire to apologize for offenses he had never committed, a beacon shone out in Peter’s mind: get to the train.  It blasted through the clouds of guilt formed by doing exactly what this woman (This crazy woman, the beacon corrected.  This raving lunatic who doesn’t know what she’s saying) was complaining about.  He was still operating under the mugging hypothesis, so rather than giving one last, desperate, pointless tug, he reached down with his other hand and pulled out his wallet.

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One Response

  1. Shirley Says:

    Her actions are extreme, but you know what? the crazy old lady has a point!

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