Friday, May 12, 2017

People in big cities put up with a lot of shit. The air is filthy, the streets are crowded, the people act like animals. We note these faults and accept them and think, well, it's worth it, because at least I can go see "Hello, Dolly!" whenever I want.

There's one ridiculous phenomenon that I can't accept, though, that other big-city dwellers have probably noticed. Picture this: you're waiting for a subway train. You've been on your feet for eighteen hours and you're exhausted. It's your lucky day! When the train pulls up, the doors are right in front of you, and through the window you see an empty seat.

The doors slide open and in less than three footsteps your dream dies. Before you get to the seat, a rambunctious little rugrat scurries between your legs and clambers up onto it. They smile. "Look at me!" their face says. "I'm sitting! Wheee!"

You shoot them a glare that would paralyze oysters. "You're sitting, kid," you want to repeat. "You didn't make a hit record with LaToya Jackson."

I blame parents. A kid does fuck-all and they act like he's won the Nobel Prize. You ate a carrot? Hooray! You took your socks off? Whoopee! You stuck three Legos together? OHMIFUCKINGOD! I worry about the damage it's going to do to the kid. Twenty years from now their boss will say, "Hey, what's up with that Farnsworth report?" and they'll say, "I haven't started it yet, but I've been pooping into porcelain!"

As an observant human, this kids-on-the-subway phenomena confuses me. Doesn't a child's life consist of running around aimlessly? While adults are sitting in comfy chairs drinking cappuccinos, kids grab at the opportunity for exercise. "Gosh," they think, "I wonder if I can run in a circle until I carve a groove into marble tile!"

Yet the second they're in a moving metal box with strangers they're like, "Oh, shit. I just gotta get offa these dogs." They play endless sports. They scamper across streets. They march in place in their bedrooms. But they minute they're on a subway car they're staring at everybody seated with tears in their eyes, like "I been chasing a squirrel with a rock for eight hours. How's about helping a six-year-old out?"

They can fuck off. You focus on your smartphone but from the corner of your eye you see the sad face. "Yo, bud, have some sympathy," it says. "These little pink legs are swole!"

Once the kids sit down, though, their demeanor changes. Now the energy is back. Now they can hardly sit still long enough to stare out the window. "What the hell?" they think as they kick everything within eight miles with their dirty feet. "There's a motherfuckin' pigeon out there!"

I don't understand their parents. They know the kids don't deserve or appreciate the seats. Why don't they make the kids stand? It wouldn't be difficult: just say something like, "Teddy, I'll bet you can't jump up and down until Jesus returns." "I'll bet I can!" Teddy yaps. He leaps out of the seat and the 92-year-old lady in front of it smiles for the first time since Rudolph Valentino took off his shirt.

Before she can get to it, though, a little girl is there. "You look just like my great-grandma!" she says. "Holy shit, is that graffiti? Heather Leigh, get your little pink Keds over here!!"

1 comment:

Yet Another Steve said...

I suspect these are the same children (and their horrible "parents") one sees at the luggage carousel at the airport. As adults crowd anxiously around the carousel, ready to grab and swing their 50-pound suitcases, little children will worm their way between legs to stand right in the way where they can "watch." And then when one of them gets clobbered by a suitcase, the parents finally notice that they have children and start screaming at whoever was retrieving his/her luggage.

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