Miss(ed) Manners

September 22, 2006

Miss(ed) Manners: Chit for Chat

Filed under: Column,Funny,Humor,Loud Talkers,Manners,Personal,Ramblings,Subway,Why? — missedmanners @ 12:25 pm

Say you’re a regular guy with a lot on your mind. You’ve got all these great ideas bouncing around inside that skull of yours and you just want to get them out. Your friends don’t really have the time to listen, everyone you know is just too busy… so where do you go to just get it all off your chest?

A rush hour subway car filled with people, right?

Makes sense I guess, train passengers are kind of a captive audience. They can’t really leave, not until their stop, and getting up and moving just because you’re talking, well, I mean, that’s kind of rude.

This basically outlines the situation I witnessed this morning on my way into the office. I’d gotten on the J, as usual and was leaning against the door as we rumbled towards the Williamsburg Bridge. Everything seemed really normal. People were their usual groggy, morning selves. Those sitting seemed to be meditating and reciting the popular mantra, “Friiiiiiiiiidaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, niiiiiiinnne houuuuurrrrs to goooooooooooo.”

But something was different. Right in front of me I noticed some excited movement, hands flashing, head shaking, lips wagging, that sort of thing. This guy was talking very loudly at some poor little girl who seemed to be holding a newspaper.

I had my headphones on so I was missing the gist of the conversation. It was obviously one sided, so at first I assumed this guy was throwing some game, as the girl was definitely attractive by any means of the word. Reluctantly, I turned off my Goo Goo Dolls Greatest Hits Megamix and focused in on the exchange.

Calling it an exchange would really be incorrect. From what I gathered the guy, or Chat Stu as I began to refer to him in my head, had seen a headline regarding Iran’s nuclear program in the lady’s, or Extremely Uncomfortable Girl’s (EUGene), Daily News. This prompted him to launch into a seamless logorrheic tirade, extolling his opinions on a number of subjects.

It wasn’t even like Chat Stu was talking just to EUGene. Granted, he was sitting right next to her and his mouth was just two or three inches from her eye, no, he was shouting loud enough for the entire car to hear. Poor EUGene just sat there, smiling politely, trying her best to make every possible non-verbal attempt to let him know that she just wanted to get back to reading her paper.

Now, when I said seamless and logorrheic, I meant it. You know how there are people out there who will just talk and talk and talk about nothing at all until you literally look them in the face and say, “if you do not stop talking right now I will take the laces out of my shoes, ram them down your throat and then fashion a crude noose out the laces and hang you from a telephone wire by your toes and tell the local kids there’s a pinata outside full of useless thoughts.”

The only way to deal with people like this is you have to wait for a break in their mindless jibber jabber. Most often, this is when they pause for breath. That split second when their mind says, “oh yeah, I need to stop spewing completely inane information so that I can replenish my oxygen supply, then I can get right back to boring the fuck out this person in front of me.”

Well, Chat Stu didn’t breathe. I watched him for somewhere around twenty minutes and over six stops and not one pause. It reminded me of that guy in the movie, The Sting, who was reading the results off the high speed telegram machine, no pauses, no fear, no mercy.

All in all the behavior seemed so crazy, but Stu didn’t look or sound nuts at all. He was dressed fairly well, not fancy, but definitely not in hobo-gear. He was clean and articulate, just looked like a regular guy on his way to work. The whole thing was mesmerizing, especially his points of view.

There was so much filler in between his salient points that it was hard to pick out exactly what Stu was trying to say. He had started off with the nuclear situation in Iran but within a few minutes had strayed all over the political, social and sexual world.

Some memorable Chat Stu quotes:

“I’m not a black man, white man, rich man, poor man, right man, left man, up man, down man… I’m an Original Man, see.”

“Being gay is a choice, a lifestyle choice you make, like being a crack head, you can choose to be a crack head, you choose to be gay, you ain’t born a crack head.”

“The World Trade Center was bombed! Did you know they took out all the bomb sniffing dogs six days before 9/11? At the beginning of September there were no dogs allowed in the World Trade Center.” (This was the longest portion of his lecture, involving technical details of “bombs ‘n shit,” “melted steel ‘n shit” and “physics stuff.”)

“A man has got to be able to protect his family. If you don’t protect your family, you’re not a man, I don’t have a family, because I’m an Original Man, see.”

As we neared his stop at Chambers Street he began wrapping things up. He was talking to everyone now, not just EUGene, but anyone who would listen. I had taken a seat right across from him. As he got up to exit the car he began politely urging us to think about everything he said.

I had been thinking about what he was saying and all in all, none of it was real crazy-person talk. It was all a little misguided, sure, but they were just his opinions, a fact he kept mentioning, almost as much as his “Original Man” Theory.

When the doors shut there were about six of us who’d been in direct ear shot of Chat Stu and we all started to giggle. A girl next to me said, “I’m all for conversations, but someone needs to tell him, not on the train and NOT this early!”

“He certainly had a lot on his mind!” Said the woman to EUGene’s left.

EUGene was blushing furiously, “I just wanted to read my paper, I haven’t even made it to the local section yet.”

Two seats down an older man said, “Have you ever thought of reading People Magazine?” Meaning celebrity gossip is not nearly as inflammatory.

We all laughed.

There were only two stops left and we spent them trading light jokes and wondering what was the most polite way to deal with someone who forces you into a one sided conversation like that. How do tell someone you’d rather just sit in quiet contemplating the day ahead?

We all broke off to head to our jobs and the girl sitting next to me said, “Have a nice day.” With a smile I replied, “You too.” The warmth and genuineness of the exchange made me all smiles, but it was also confusing. Here we’d had a conversation, not the usual awkward, “Hey whatcha been up to?” random subway encounter mushmouth conversation, but a real friendly talk… about how you just don’t feel like talking in the morning.

If it hadn’t been for Stu getting all loud and opinionated we’d never have had that shared moment, however brief. The confusion didn’t stop me from smiling all the way to work, or even now.

I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how rude, inconsiderate, loud, bigoted or annoying someone can be, you can still bond with strangers and have a good time making fun of that person once with they and their whacko-loco speak are a safe distance away.

2 Comments »

  1. Making connections are great…especially the ones that link us with each other in a meaningful way.

    Thanks for taking note. Hopefully it started a ripple effect in everyones day and they passed on the feeling of genuineness. Out of lemons (the asshole) your car of victims made lemonade.

    Comment by mom — September 23, 2006 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  2. Agrees with your mum. The communication of strangers echoes the sentiment “the kindness of strangers”. Random moments/ecncounters are sometimes the most pleasurable.

    Comment by BluJewel — September 25, 2006 @ 8:25 am | Reply


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