I WILL CUT YOU……if you ask me nicely

14 Aug

Recently I took a trip to the Big Apple.  Alone.  Big deal, you say?  Well, for me, yes.  I have lived 3 places in my life so far, none of which had a population exceeding 10,000.  Green Acres, Mayberry and my current homestead which lies just outside a very large city, in a very large state which makes it seem like a drop in a bucket kinda place.  So in essence, yes, Joan alone in the Big Apple IS a Big Deal!    I should probably add that I’m fairly shy and skiddish. (You know how most parents teach their kids to look both ways before crossing the road? Well, my parents just forbid me to cross the road at all….who needs to build confidence when you can just avoid risk and danger all together.  I was safe…problem solved…except for the resulting crossthelinephobia.)

Now you get a snippit of the picture and we can fast forward 40+ years to me taking the train from the airport into the city.  Just imagine my excitement and fascination as I found my way through the airport and to the correct platform dragging my purple travel POD.  I may have stood out in the crowd just a little.  (There is a good explanation for the oversize luggage….wait for it).  I must have appeared very approachable and acclimated (I like to think) because I was asked three times by other travelers if this was the correct platform for the A train to Manhattan.  I just smiled a confident smile (inside and out) and assured them yes it was. 

My confidence quickly plummeted when the train arrived and I had to maneuver the purple mini-POD onto the train.  I’m sure the surveillance camera monitoring crew was amused.  I watched as the other passengers nonchalantly chunked their little black travel bags up onto the overhead storage knowing there was no way the 50 lb purple mini-pod was leaving the ground by my hands.  I began to panic just a little because I knew the train might take off at any second and jolt me to the floor in the aisle, the purple mini-POD landing on top of me.  Meanwhile, the passengers behind me were growing impatient as I scanned for a seat that would accommodate the POD and I.  No such luck, so awkwardly, I sat down next to a safe enough looking young man in a suit and tried to shove the POD in with me, managing only to get about half of it wedged between the seats.  I felt relieved and relaxed momentarily until the nice young man asked, “Are you here on vacation?”  and I answered, “Just a long weekend” .    He glanced at the purple mini-POD and I suddenly felt ridiculous again and began to explain.  “It’s full of venomous snakes”.   “Joan’s on a train”.  “I’m Joan”. “Nice to meet you”.  I’m not sure he understood the Snakes on a Plane reference (perhaps because it’s not really a very good one, nor is it all that funny,)  (am I the only one that says stupid shit to be funny when nervous?)  Anyway, if he missed the joke, then he didn’t seem shaken by the idea that I might actually have snakes in the POD (really….there are some crazy people out there…..remember…), but he smiled and told me to enjoy myself.  We chatted briefly about the train stops and the city in general.  Then he went back to reading whatever he was reading before I sat down.

The train clamored on, I relaxed again and it began to sink in that I was inbound to the Big Apple!  I fell deep inside my own thoughts of how good it felt to finally be brave enough to make this trip alone and of how far I had come in the last few years and of how much dang fun I was going to have (start spreading the news, I’m arriving today, I’m gonna be a part of it…ny, ny) when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I see the young man’s arm come at me!  I shuddered, tensed up and was ready to scream when he politely, nicely and calmly asked, “ Mam, by any chance, do you have anything that will cut this?”  “What…..  Did he just ask me?” ”He wants me to cut him?”  My eyes darted to his face and I detected naïve embarrassment both in his eyes and in his voice as he pointed to the manufacturer’s label on the sleeve of his suit.  I felt my jaw unclench and the twinge of compassion for the young man whom I actually just now noticed was the approximate age of my son.  “That’s not supposed to be on there, is it?” He meekly added.

“No”, I replied softly.  “Are you on your way to an important event right now?”

“Job interview”, he answered.

I smiled and cautiously revealed to him that yes, I do in fact have a means of removing the tag and by that, I’m telling you that I have a knife.  A knife in my purse.  I have a knife in my purse and if I get it out, do you think anyone will freak out and jump me in your defense?

(Consider that there was a wild eyed dude across the aisle who was all picturing himself on a train in the station with plasticine porters and looking glass ties who had overhead me say there were venomous snakes in the purple mini-POD and had been shooting repeated paranoid glances toward me.  I figured by now he was sure the snakes had escaped from the pod and were crawling up his legs because he had begun to twitch.  If he sees me pull the knife out, he’s bound to jump up yelling “CRAZY SLASHER BITCH”, “GET OFF ME SNAKE”.)  I feel my concern was warranted.

The young man beside me apparently had not noticed or was generally unaffected by the spirit in the sky beside us and assuredly remarked,” That’s great!” grinning, relieved and half chuckling.   I don’t think that will happen.  Would you mind?”

With that, I dug into my purse and retrieved the 1 ½” long pocket knife that I always carry, because I never know when someone is going to ask me to cut them and the mantra of Junior Girl Scout Troop 424 “be prepared”  made a powerful and lasting impression on me. (Or because I really am a crazy slasher bitch….there are some real weirdos out there, you never know)  Ironically, it did not seem strange at all to be holding the wrist of a total stranger in one hand and wielding a knife in the other.   Then with ninja speed  (and motherly cautiousness)….slash/slash… it was done.

The young man graciously thanked me while he pulled at the lingering loose threads.  He was visibly pleased and relieved.  As I re-concealed my weapon I was already recanting what had occurred in the last 30 minutes and realizing it was an encounter I would always remember fondly as the time someone asked me nicely to cut them.  The train slowed and the intercom announced, “Penn New York”.  The young man thanked me again and I warmly wished him the best of luck on his job and his future.  POD and I then struggled to the open doors and bounded out onto the platform.  “I’m here”  For a moment I was all Mary Tyler Moore theme song and then I realized that POD and I had 3 flights of stairs to march up to the street before I could toss my beret.  Grrrrr.  You big heavy purple POD, I really want to cut you right now.

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