Tuesday, October 25, 2011

jungle rot

It's not that I've begun to respect homeless people any less, since moving to the city. But something definitely has shifted. Maybe it's that I've become more accustomed to seeing them, smelling them, everywhere. They're just a part of normal life. But I mean, I already do hate the homeful people that crowd the sidewalk with me everyday...the fact that I don't hate homeless people has to be worth something, right?

In any case, today I got on the subway and saw this absolutely repulsive dude sitting there who was a literal living mummy. If you've ever smelled decaying human flesh, you'd know what I'm talking about. It was terrible. I wasn't too bothered by the smell though. What I was bothered by was the absurd, inexcusable exaggeration of a response displayed by everybody on the train. People grimaced, covered their noses, cast angry looks at the man, as if saying "How dare you offend me!" I could have sworn I saw somebody fiddling with a gas mask.

People scrambled away from him, crowding toward either end of the car, leaving the man, me, and two other brave souls in an empty space of embarrassment. I'm grateful for that kind couple who sat across from him, unashamed and unswayed. They must have known the value of dignity, the value of human worth. Either that or they both had really stuffy noses.

I didn't really know what to do, especially since I was only on the train for a quick transfer. Should I have given the man a few kind words? Should I have offered him some Purell? (I didn't have any) Should I have shouted condemnations at all those pompous pricks? At the very least though, if I were on the train longer, I definitely would have sat down next to the man. Besides, it's extremely rare to see so many open seats on the E train.

And as for passing judgement on everybody else in that car, well...I guess I'd rather be rotting on the outside than rotting on the inside.


  1. I always study on the train, if there's a seat open, I'll sit there!

  2. amen. the question is: was he alive? a serious question i am posing; it'd be a sad thing if people passed him by without perhaps knowing he might have been dead.