After months of frustration I’d discovered the perfect revenge. Cathartic and subtle in equal measure. When a troublesome customer slowed the breakfast rush with their gesticulating demands for a particular pastry, I would grasp the pastry, as normal, with my serving tongs. Then as I place the pastry in the bag, I tear the pastry apart with the tongs. At the same time I would look the customer square in their eyes and smile, “Anything else?”
As a person ages the most embarrassing moment his or her life takes on totemic power. You find yourself holding it, stroking it’s frozen surface, almost unconsciously. You shudder, groaning to yourself, taken back to the time and place of it’s birth, while going about the mundane moments of your present life. This is what I’m thinking about on Thanksgiving while riding a standing room only Long Island Rail Road train.
The young man needs to go to the bathroom. That’s clear from his pogo-ing gait which reminds me of someone doing a sack race without partner. Standing between him and sweet relief is roughly 10 feet. 10 feet, a set of doors between the cars, and the Turkey craving hordes stacked like jenga blocks in every free space on the train. In a system that probably works 363 days out of the year a LIRR train has it’s bathrooms set at the end of every other car. Not the car that I, my wife, my dog, and sack race boy are in.
Under optimal condition it would work like this: feeling the need to pee pee one would first ascertain whether ones passenger coin flip has come up heads or crotch. If the commode is in your car it’s simply a matter of determining occupancy. If not one must part the car doors, and, buffeted by the roar of the speeding train, step out onto a small rocking platform. Crossing this you then open another set of doors and step into the next car.
Today this mission is impossiblified by the Turkey Mobs. Standing in the aisles and blocking both sets of doors. The young man is dissuaded. He turns and pogos back to his faraway seats. Returning some minute later with his father. His desperation is palpable. The father rams through the Turkey Mobs and shoulders me aside. Pulling open the doors, he steps out onto the bucking platform and pounds on the other door. He might as well be at the walls of Constantinople. The defending Turkey Mob will not (thru various hand and head gestures they say cannot) open the doors. The father curses them in a grating Lawng Gilan accent.
And now grabbing his son by his winter sweater pulls him out onto the platform.
"Just go here, right in front of them, go right on that fucking door"
It must have been difficult. The rocking platform, like a tiny boat, tossed by waves. The howling winds. The hundreds of holiday travelers. I could only stare at my shoes and hope that airborne pee droplets weren’t irrigating my pumpkin cheesecake.