Monday, May 30, 2011

I Am Fortunate for My Fully Functioning Brain

On the train to Venice I had an extremely weird encounter with an Italian man. A man in his mid to late 60's looking pretty shabby and smelling of stale cigarettes sat diagonally across from me in the four-seater area of the train that I was sitting in. I was busy jamming out to my IPOD (literally jamming, mouthing the words and bobbing my head, loving life and taking in the beautiful, rainy, Italian views out the window). I had both my book, Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger, and my journal on the little table. Sometime shortly after the man sat down I began reading the 3rd or 4th story in my book, leaving my headphones in and IPOD on. Thought that I would mention the obvious here...this book is clearly in English and I probably couldn't look more like a tourist in the mix of all the ever-so-fashionable Italians. Anyway, maybe 10 minutes later I notice the man making hand gestures and talking, apparently either to me, or to no one. I tried not to pay attention and continued some combination of reading/writing/listening to music. I couldn't help but notice that the man's hand gestures and mannerisms did not seem friendly, moreover, it sort of seemed like he was angry with the person he was speaking to (which at this point I pretended not to realize was clearly me). I paused my IPOD a few times but since I do not know Italian I had no idea what he was saying or why he was so angry. The man continued to speak, off and on, for the next hour or so all the while I grew increasingly more uncomfortable, both because he was gesturing into my personal space and because I had to use the restroom.

I thought I was stuck for the next hour and a half of the ride as I did not want to leave my things while I went to the bathroom until, way out! My window began to leak on me because of the rain. Perfect, I thought, I'll move one set of seats back, and I did just that. I then thought to myself, once I sat down mind you, well, if I'm going to move I might as well take my stuff and go to the bathroom. After a minute I took my suitcase and backpack to the bathroom with me and when I walked back into the car I sat on the other side of the train, about 3 sets of seats away from my friend. Why I didn't think to switch carts is beyond me.

I continued listening to music and started painting my nails. My friend now gets up from my old seating area and starts walking up the train car. He leans in to my new seating area, says something angrily in Italian way too close to my face, and proceeds up the car. I decide to look across the aisle in a very confused manner making sure that the other passengers knew that I do not understand what he has been saying to me for the past hour +. My friend walked back down the car and repeated this leaning in and talking to me. It took 5 or 6 trips of this man up and down the car, stopping ONLY at my seat and talking at me on both his way up the cart and back down the cart before I finally had gotten so fed up I decided I needed to do something. I was enjoying the ride so much and this man was ruining it for me! As I took out my headphones on one of his passes I said, muffled to myself, "what the fuck?!" and out loud "I do not speak Italian!!" "ahhh" replied the man and he walked back to his seat for the remainder of the train ride.

What was it about me that drew this man to me and why did he not either A. give up sooner, or B. pester someone else after I spoke up? Oh yea, and what the hell was he talking/arguing/angry about for 2 hours?!

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