It’s the 10:11 pm out of Penn Station.
It’s usually a quiet ride. Dead quiet once it gets to my stop.
Last night on train home, I boarded early, about a minute after the initial track announcement. There was a guy, dead asleep, in seat closest to the window across the aisle. “Wow, dude is asleep already,” was my first thought because he couldn’t have been seated longer than thirty seconds.
The train blasts through the tunnel and into New Jersey. Conductor comes around to collect tickets. Sleepy dude won’t budge. One “sir” and nothing. Second “sir” and still nothing. Finally, out of frustration and probably standard procedure, the conductor raps the side of the seat with his company issued hole puncher. Dude comes to, looks up, performs the slowest fucking pull of his monthly ticket out of his pocket and brandishes it for the conductor. Head back down while sliding the pass back into his slacks after four failed attempts.
Minutes pass. I’m not exactly sure how many. Enough time for me to get through a couple pages of my book and forget where I am. Then there’s this sound, loud, like ocean water hitting the side of car except this ride is on dry land. My head turns to find the most tired man in the world is actually the drunkest man on the planet.
I’ve had the flu a few times. I was in a fraternity in college. I’ve got two kids. I’ve never, in my three plus decades shuffling around on this planet, EVER seen a person vomit in this way. Projectile isn’t correct but it’s close. This was a Super Soaker filled with oatmeal and raisin. A weapon if pointed directly at another human. Luckily, his wide open trap was pointed at the window, then seat in front of him, then seat behind him, then front of his clothes and I’m not sure where else because my body was down the aisle before the stench had time to assault my nostrils.
Two cars later and I’m caught up to the same conductor who’d awoke the slumbering bomb of bile.
“Hey, remember that dude who wouldn’t wake up? He just vomited all over the windows and seats and all over the fucking place” and he goes “NAH! WHAT? NAH!” and starts circling the vestibule between cars like a fighter ready to hit the ring. “THIS IS MY LAST RUN TONIGHT MAN! I’M DONE TONIGHT! NAH MAN!” and he just kept on repeating “all over the windows?!” and I’m answering “yes, all over the windows” until the third time he said it and I realized he might just be talking out loud because the alternative was to deal with the situation.
“Nah, man. Nah,” and the last nah gets cut off by the closing the door behind his back. He’s safely in the car in the opposite direction and I’m up to the second level, enough air between us, waiting for the rest of tired riders of the 10:11 out of Penn Station unlucky enough to have been sitting in that car to find shelter in some other seat, in some other car, on some other train, in some other town.
Follow Chris Illuminati on Twitter at @chrisilluminati.