Hitchhikers Guide to the Obnoxiousness of the Northeast

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

This weekend my wife and I made a mad dash to Philadelphia to attend the absolutely radiant wedding of my cousin to the love of her life.  You can't ever get enough of that.

Unfortunately, we had to catch a fairly early train out of the city in order to get home in time for my wife to teach on Monday.  As amazing as the festivities of the wedding were, the trip back was the opposite.  State by state we encountered various characters who typified each city's particular brand of obnoxious.  Come, let me take you on my Tour of Territorial Torture (Trademarked).

Philadelphia.  Of all the northeastern states, I know Pennsylvania the least.  First off, it's massive.  Driving east to west in Pennsylvania can break your spirit so much that you are excited to reach Ohio.  Enough said.  Phili has the nickname "The City of Brotherly Love" but the reputation as "The City of Throwing Batteries at Opposing Sports Teams."  While I have climbed the 'Rocky' steps and declared victory for America, there is very little doubt that Philadelphians are the most direct communicators of their feelings of all the states in question.  Let's look at this example from our Sunday commute:

After descending into the subway for our 2-stop commute to the Amtrak station, we were immediately confronted with the subway token machine.  I can't tell you what the exact fare is for the subway, but I do know that 2 tokens cost $3.10.  That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  But we'll move past it.  My wife puts a $5 bill in the machine and it pops up "3 tokens for 4.65".  We then, understandably, look for the button to get one less token.  Such a button does not exist.  Barring any other options, we get the three tokens.  I immediately grab the excess token and head to the woman inside the subway turnstile booth.

ME: (In my absolute friendliest tone): Hi, is there any chance that I can get reimbursed for this token, there didn't seem to be an option to get less than 3 for $5. 
Token Woman (larger, 40-something black woman with large frame glasses): [Loudly]Oh, no!  You can't do that.  
ME: (it is 9am post wedding, I give in almost immediately) Ok, well, will you just give this extra token to a weary traveller?   I push the token under the glass.
Token Woman: Oh NO! You can't do that . . . you push that token under the glass and I haaaave to shove it right back.  See the . . . 

She wants to tell me all about the rules and regulations regarding receiving and returning tokens.  I, do not care.  Even a little.  I am trying to get to the train ASAP and furthermore, in giving the token away I am only hoping on brightening someone's day who may not have the money or change for a subway ride.  She is looking for an opening to begin an extended conversation and break the monotony of sitting alone in a subway booth.  I am looking to close all of said openings.

I then produce my best suggestion of the interaction.  If I could go back in time, this is how I would have left things.

ME: How about if I just leave the token, here.   I place the token directly in front of the token lady, but outside of the glass.  One of the few places she could not get at from inside the booth.  It wasn't until later that I realized how this move would have psychologically destroyed this woman.

At exactly this moment, a woman was exiting through the turnstiles as another woman finished buying a token.  The token woman saw these women, realized that I was planning on giving this token/money away for free, and summarily had her brain melt inside her skull.  She begins SHOUTING through the booth microphone.

Token Woman: WHY DON'T YOU JUST GIVE IT TO THAT WOMAN!!!! (motions to woman coming through turnstile) OR THAT WOMAN!!!! (motions to woman ending her token transaction). JUST SELL IT TO HER FOR A DOLLER!  I MEAN AT LEAST SELL IT FOR A DOLLAR!!!

No good deed goes unpunished.  This woman's voice is billowing around the empty subway chamber.  The two women passerby's are now stopped dead in their tracks, stunned by the volume of this message's assault.  This token woman will not allow these token to be given away for nothing.  A free token given may shut down this subway entrance for the extent of morning service.

Mercifully, the woman who had just bought a token, bought our excess token as well.  She probably was headed to the train station as well, but the awkwardness created in the public space of this subway anti-chamber was so extreme as to pressure even the stodgiest of souls to cough up a buck to get the hell out of there.

The token woman was abrasive, against charity, and all up in everyone's face about it.  I give you, Philadelphia.

New York.  Immediately upon entering the train in Phili, wife and I make a B-line for the "Quiet Car,"  reclined our seats, and lost sight of consciousness in the half-blink of an eye.  We may have eaten a danish.  I cannot fully recall.  The next thing either of us remember was two women with New York accents, hovering over our seats, scream-talking to each other.

50-year old white woman: You think you can fit into that seat?

Her Mom: I don't know, you want to sit here?

Woman: Should we go further down (for the record we are in the 1st non-business class car.)

Her Mom: I'm not sure . . . I thiiiiink I could get in there . . . 

I was not fake sleeping.  I was Ahhhsleep.  These women are talking loudly in our direction in order to wake us up so that we will unrecline our seats fully so that they have easier access to the first available seats they've spotted which happen to be IN THE QUIET CAR!  Color me unimpressed.

I awake with a start (genuinely) and take in the scene.  Let me take a moment to say that, independent of the current situation, I am my most violent self during the first 15 seconds of being awakened.  I have literally punched my best friend in the solar plexus during this small no-holds-barred time window (in my defense, it was college and he was jumping on me at the time).  That old bat had the girl-balls to look at me, still-cotten eyed, and say:

The Bat:  Oh, I'm sorry.

I looked right back at her and glared as I immediately replied: No you're not. (emphatic period!)

My wife, fully awake, kept her eyes shut.  I'm sure she's in quiet disbelief that I just brought the pain-juice to this rude woman on the Amtrak train.

The Bat:  (realizing she has been 100% called the fuck out)  Oh, I guess I'm not . . .

and then, as if from hibernation, wifey awakes to the words . . .

Wife: This is the QUIET CAR!      (i love her so goddamn much)

Her voice tone was severe in that way that only a school teacher can be.  An undeniable scream that presents itself in a loud whisper.  These women were not expecting us.

They sat down.   We re-reclined.  And we enjoyed it until the very last second before we had to exit.

These women were entitled, aggressive, and completely ignorant of any social norms.  I give you, New York.

Massachusetts.  To leave Massachusetts out of a discussion about the most obnoxious northeastern states would be completely shortsighted.  And thankfully for my home state, the final leg of our journey   did not disappoint.

As we settled into our final train, the glorious New Haven to Hartford 3-Car Special, we were no longer afforded the choice of a quiet car.   Considering it was only a 30 minute trip "upstate" I hardly worried about our downsized luxury, and repositioned myself for one last nap-time.

That was when the girl in front of us on the train starting dialing her phone.  She spoke loudly and clearly and though she was facing away from us, it was like we were there, inside the conversation with her.

She was probably 21 or 22, light brown skin, and an accent that sounded distinctly Springfield MA, as opposed to the state's coast.  Her word came quickly as her first girlfriend answered the phone:

Girl:  How's you.   Good good.  Girl.  I got in a bar fight yesterday.  Yah. Fo reals.  Yah, so, like, I went out to the club with my homegirls, and we were drinking.  Girl.  We were drinking stupid.  I was drinking the white spirits with the dark.  Drunk girl.  Nah, not like blackout drunk, but, like, it's all pretty blurry.  So, we was like drinking at the club, and we were dancing, and I guess this guy spilled his drink on this girl.  And then the girl, I guess, thought it was me, and she started talking shit.  And she put her hand all up near my face and i was just like, 'Nah-aw,' and I punched her.  Then her girl ran up on me and I punched her two.  Then it was like me against theree shorties.  And it took like eight n----rs to pull me off, cause like I'm so small, that I kept spillin away n' shit.

Let me take a quick sec to clarify a few pieces of this missive.  First, it didn't pass the smell test.  She was saying "I guess" wayyyy too many times around the critical facts of the incident for me to believe that "some seemingly uninvolved dude" was the main cause of this whole kerfuffle, and then that guy just let this whole girl brouhaha transpire despite his transgression.  I think she did spill the drink.  Second, this was not a small girl.  Oh, she was short, maybe 5'1", but tiny she was not.  If i grabbed her around the waste, she was not so bony as to me hard to grasp.  Furthermore, she wasn't even thin.  She was eminently grab-able.  Not that I was offering.  She continues . . .

Girl:  What did my mom say?  She wasn't happy about it but she was like, 'You don't a bitch get up in your face.' And I'm like, 'Damn right?'  Oh, hold on, I got another call.

This scene then repeated about 3 or 4 times.  Seriously.  The second she finished telling the story to one friend, she made some excuse, hung up, called someone else and then it was wash, rinse, repeat the story.   That is how I remember it so distinctly.

There was one incoming call that didn't follow script.  The girl dials.

Girl: Hello?  Hello?   Who's this?    Darrell.   Oh, he's not there . . . well then . . . just tell him that I called.

Immediately following this interaction she redials her girlfriend.

Girl: Oh my GOD.  You will not believe what he just did.  I just called him and he had his girl answer. Yah, she was all 'Who you callin for? and 'He's not here right now.' And I'm all 'Bitch, I was just talking to him a minute ago.' and hung up.

Again, I am forced to point out that in reality she said, 'Oh, he's not there, well then . . . just tell him that I called.  I hope the truth warmed up, because it was getting stretched.

Then back to calling people again with her 'Girlllllll, guess what?  I got in a bar fight . . . 

And then the story of the fight again.  This time maybe one more shortie to fight and one less n----- to pull her off.  I have never been so glad to see Hartford Train Station.

This girl completely ignored the fact that there were others around her as she brashly violated the public space with her self-centered verbal diarrhea.  I give you Massachusetts.

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