In times like these (11:51 and 11:52 A.M., respectively), it is a comfort to know that - though the road ahead may be hard, the waters troubled, the going tough, the proof in the pudding, and other platitudes that may or may not have to do with the end of this sentence - The Man will still be there to make you pay money you do not, technically speaking, owe.
You can't blame The Man, of course. Making you pay money you do not owe is The Man's way of revitalizing our economy. Now when I say "you," I of course mean, "me." I didn't see you pony up so much as a sou* yesterday, when, on a train ride I had purchased by means of a perfectly legitimate rider rewards program, I was commanded on board to -- you guessed it -- surrender multiple dollars.
There is never any arguing with The Man. I am never sure why this is. In this case, I think it was because The Man is required to do everything cheerfully. As in, he will cheerfully tell you you owe $19, he will cheerfully repeat that you owe $19 anyway, and if you do not give him $19, he will cheerfully hurl you onto the tracks. Also, The Man in this case was wearing a comical train-person hat, which acts as a pretty good form of Argument Block, because there is always the risk that, mid-wrath, you will inadvertently let out a violent snort and blow your train-brand coffee out your nose.**
So I've decided I'm at peace with having given them $19, because in the end, whatever the train people take away from you in the form of money,*** they give back abundantly in the form of first-class**** entertainment. I am referring, as you have no doubt surmised, to passengers in train restrooms. These folks are by far the class of train-travel amenities, besting even:
- Small tasteless sandwich-like items ($12.95, without ketchup)
- The convenient tray tables affixed to the seat in front of you only by what turns out to be a wad of fossilized Bubble Yum from the disco era, and sporting the secretions of every train passenger dating back to Neanderthal passengers, who used the tray tables to eat mastodon sandwich-like objects (back then they retailed for only $7.95).*****
For those infrequent train passengers, train restrooms are configured such that it is, on occasion, unclear to the occupant that the door is not actually locked. This discovery is typically made at that moment in which the vehicle experiences a moment's "turbulence," causing the train restroom door to slide conveniently open. Meanwhile, the occupant, responding only to the demands of the sympathetic nervous system ...
SCIENCE MOMENT: OUR NERVOUS SYSTEMS
We have three nervous systems: the sympathetic nervous system, which is the one that runs around in circles barking wildly and trying to bite its own tail and riding in cars with its head out the window and peeing on the rug at the slightest provocation; the parasympathetic nervous system, which lies on the beach drinking daiquiris and tells you to take it easy and occasionally scratches itself, and Jeff, their loafing yet endearing roommate, who basically just sits in front of the PlayStation all day and never does his laundry or buys groceries, but it's okay, in the end, they're the best of friends!
END OF SCIENCE MOMENT
... so, yes, anyway, the occupant, responding only to the demands of the sympathetic nervous system, lurches violently forward to fight the door. Typically the door has the advantage, because it is not wearing its pants around its ankles. Clearly, this particular part of the nervous system did not evolve for the continuance of our species, because most of these people never emerge from the train restroom again.
Of course this is all very "funny" when it happens to somebody else, but when it happens to you personally, that is different. Then it is probably hilarious. So for my part I am definitely content to keep riding the train, and I invite you personally to come along with me next time and share in the fun. You can even sit next to me, if you like, though please be advised there will be a fee of $19.
* 1 sou = 3.5 huh?
** Needless to say, this would be a better move than drinking it.
*** Namely, money.
***** Before tax.
©2009 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending