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Monday, February 28, 2005

Oh Virtuous One, You Annoy the Crap Outta Me

I flopped onto my seat in the 6:35 pm Metra Northline Train this evening at about 6:27pm. I had a two-seat bench to myself. For me, an aisle seat is imperative. I don't like being hemmed in by strangers. The Main Street stop is only 22 minutes away from the downtown Chicago transportation center, so I usually am the first one on the two-seat bench to leave - sitting on the aisle eliminates the need for my seat mate to stand up when I depart.

At 6:34 pm, there was a commotion in the aisle. Many people rush in right before departure, but the guy standing next to my seat was not a typical commuter. He was wearing a bike helmet, had a huge backpack and was schlepping a large, odd-shaped piece of soft luggage. I figured it out - he had one of those folding bicycles in that piece of luggage. He was out of breath and was decked out in a bright yellow parka. Of course, the sole remaining seat in the car was next to me. I got up and let him in. He proceeded to consume 7/8ths of the space available on the two-seat bench. His backpack, the bike in the bag, his helmet and his parka (removed from his scrawny back) took up most of the room. I shoe-horned in, feeling a slow burn beginning.

It was clear that this guy had broken Lance Armstrong's Tour de France speed record while pedalling to the station. He was panting, wheezing and sweating like a pig. This created a locker room stench that was strong enough to cause my eyes to water. He mopped his brow and settled in as the train left the station. Once underway, he pulled a sack of apples out of his backpack and began to chomp away. It is interesting how much noise a person can create with an apple.

I am a polite person, generally. I don't cause scenes, usually. This fellow was doing many fine things - riding a bike in the winter in Chicago, riding the train, saving energy, eating healthy food, etc.; a very virtuous person. I wanted to squeeze his neck tightly until his virtuous eyeballs popped out of his virtuous skull. But I didn't.

Fortunately, the folks across the aisle left at the second stop. I scrambled over to the empty bench. I calmed down. The Disgusting Virtuous One spread out to 8/8ths of the bench. I had a big glass of red wine when I got home. I am all right now.

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