Those two innocuous words threw me for a loop this morning. They came from a man sitting adjacent to me on the subway as I rode in on my way to work.
In the three seconds it took for my bajan manners to kick in and respond likewise about 20 thoughts ran through my head.
Wait I kno he?
He cud be talking to me?
Wha um is he want now? I aint got nuh money ta give a fella! I aint care wha kinda sob story he got fa me.
Wait he is ona dem cult fellas dat gine try to start confusing me bout visiting he church? Cause fa right now I aint looking to follow nuh cults. Next ting I know dem tekkin all my salary an de Pastor tief off my wife to be he concubine an leff me by my one self. Actually wait that cud be a good ting, lemma hear wha he got to say an if de pastor lookin fa concubines.
He head bad? he aint look like he escape from Queen Street but still ya can neva tell dese days, he head cud be bad.
Wait was I was talkin to myself agin and he thought I was talking to he? I gotta stop talking and singing ta myself cause dis ting like it duz only attract mad people ya!
Chupse what um is bout me dat mek it look like I interested in conversation dis blessed morning. He cann see I got a newpaper an headphones on specifically cause I aint looking to listen or talk or hear from nuhbody this marning. chupse!
Wha I been in this country umpteen years and nuhbody neva say good morning ta me pun the train. He cann be Canadian!
Naa he want money I kno he want money, cud only be cause that is the only time a complete stranger will say morning to ya on the Train. yea dat is it.
And on and on it went in my head even after I had responded to his greeting and sat down and started reading the newspaper. I was wary. You would have thought the man had threatened me with a knife or something instead of offering me words of greeting.
As the trip started I kept glancing up, surreptitiously trying to take the measure of the man. He still looked sane, was dressed ok; plaid shirt, jeans, sneakers looked like a computer dude so maybe he didnt want my money and no he didnt try to say anything else to me for the duration of the trip so that ruled out the whole cult thing.
Strange indeed. He said Good morning to a stranger. My mind trys to wrap itself around that unfathomable concept. He didnt stare, he didnt push, he didnt plop himself down next to me almost crushing my leg, he didnt give me a wha you looking at mind ya business look, he didnt give me the unless thats the only seat left in this whole train I aint sitting next to you look. Instead he said good morning.
Whoa! Head rush!
Whats that all about? Doesn't he know that in the subway we try to interact as little as possible with our fellow man? Its bad enough we're stuck on this damn infernal, prone to random break downs, vehicle some for 1/2 hr or more or that we might inadvertently have our space violated, get crushed or accidentally brush against another person we didnt want to touch. Like the white woman who kicked me last week and gave me what I can only interpret as a 'dont touch me you dirty n****' look when my foot accidentally touched hers as I moved to let someone pass. And yes I had said sorry. Dry up ol hag! Ya feel I wanta play footsies wid de likes a you. Chupse!
Willingly inviting contact with a stranger? On the subway? You mad or drunk boy? No sar. What gives?
I mean as an aside funny thing about it is that we attempt to be islands in this sea of people. Independent, not interacting, ignoring, pretending to sleep, pretending to read, staring into space, trying not to let our eyes linger too long on one spot or person, listening to our music to drown out the others but yet a lot of these folk acting as islands will pull out that cell phone and have a totally and might I say loud as what not, what should be private conversation in the midst of a complete bunch of strangers. I still haven't figured that one out yet though. Trying to be innocuous, blend in, not gain attention, no touch anyone yet have the most personal of conversations in a crowded train? Hmmm. Must be a they are strangers so who cares if they hear what I'm saying they don't know me thing. Guess that can work in a big city but I may never really figure that one out.
Anyway I kept my eye on dude until he got off at Woodbine. In the end I just figured although he showed no other outwards signs of being a stranger to the city he definitely wasn't from around these parts. yep thats it, he's definitely a newbie. He couldn't be Torontonian.
Unless he mad.
Damn I still wish he was from the cult and had come to take my wife off as a concubine. Way to get a brothers hopes up. Chupse!