I take MAX into and out of Portland about four times a week. On my way home, I usually board during rush hour (anytime between 4 and 7 really). The newer trains have four hooks to hang bikes on, so I try my best to maneuver myself towards those. Unfortunately, this means I usually have to 1) shove my way through the crowds, knocking over old ladies and small children with my two wheeled monstrosity; and 2) stand next to my bike, staring aimlessly and uncomfortably at my fellow commuters.
Spending this much time on public transit, given the distribution of nutty people, the probability of "interesting times" is high.
To begin, three stories.
The pick up.
About two weeks ago, I boarded MAX downtown near the Pioneer Place mall. I'm pretty sure it was a Thursday, which meant it must have been around 4:30 by the time I grabbed the train, coming from a grueling session of Differential Equations (math with numbers, not my favorite; petition to keep numbers out of math!). To keep myself occupied I usually bring along my iPod, which serves the two additional purposes of keeping my glasses from falling off while biking it up and lets me ignore most of the crazies mulling around.
On this particular day, I had left my precious headphones at home. Mistake number one.
A few minutes into the ride, the man standing next to me asked me a question; I answered it. Mistake number two.
What started out as an innocent enough conversation began to get a little unsettling. I'll try to recreate as much as I can remember. Enjoy.
Him: "So do you work downtown?"
Me: "Uh nope, go to school."
[3 minutes of silence]
Him: "What do you go to school for?"
[2 minutes of silence followed by another couple unrelated questions and increasingly personal questions]
Him: "Do you go to a gym and work out?"
Me: "Nope, just ride the bike."
Him: "Oh, well you have nice mass" as he motions to my chest/back region.
[4 minutes of very awkward silence]
Him: "So what are you doing tonight?"
Me: "Just going home."
Him: "Where is home? Who do you live with."
Me: "A friend"
[Why oh why did I forget my headphones today, I think to myself]
Him: "What are you doing for dinner tonight?"
Me: ".....Not sure yet. Eat at home probably."
Him: "Do you like to dance?"
Me : "....."
Him: "So you have a girlfriend?"
Me: "Uh, yup." Pretty much a lie, but it seemed like the right answer.
The last few minutes before my stop were spent in more awkward silence, with myself attempting to do anything except make eye contact with this very persistent man. The train finally pulled into my station, I grabbed my bike, and realized he was also getting off at the same stop. As I jumped on my bike and began peddling like mad, I looked back and noticed him crossing the platform to board the eastbound train back into Portland.
I have a new found sympathy for the ladies who are constantly accosted at bars.
The botched bike theft.
This happened a few nights ago. I had just taken a Group Theory midterm, after which myself and two friends from the class met up at the Market St. McMenamins to drink and commiserate. Much beer and tots were consumed, with a healthy dose of bitching and griping.
Afterwards, two of us walked down to the 10 st. MAX stop, mostly engrossed in slightly too loud conversation. While standing around waiting, a man and a woman walked up from behind us, stopping a few feet to our left. It wasn't entirely clear if they came together, or just happened to arrive at the same time. I'm not sure which would be more disturbing, considering what the man said next.
"Hey, you two, stop being such big losers and talk to this woman. Don't you want to talk to this woman instead of standing around like losers and watching this bike here? Go over there and talk to her and leave this bike here. Stop being such freaking losers, seriously. Just leave this bike here."
Really? That's the best you can come up with? I honestly expect better from crack-head would-be-thieves that hang around MAX platforms.
The typing teacher.
I saw Mr. Bristow, our high school keyboarding/journalism/yearbook/probably something else teacher, get on today at Pioneer Courthouse square. He looks exactly the same. I don't think he recognized me.