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Friday Fun! (Creepy Sprouts Guy Update)

January 7, 2011 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  It’s been a long week for me what with being sick and all.  I’m afraid I’ve been rather dull this week, so I thought why not update you all on Creepy Sprouts Guy?

I got on the bus a morning about a week or so ago and was floored to see Creepy Sprouts Guy sitting in one of the two-person seats and not eating sprouts.  I know.  Shocker, right?  He was instead eating pine nuts.  At least, they looked like pine nuts.  Personally, I think that’s kind of an expensive breakfast, but whatever.

I carefully situated myself in one of the sideways-facing seats for optimal viewing.  Would someone sit next to Creepy Sprouts Guy now that he was eating pine nuts?  What’s creeping people out about him?  Him or the sprouts?  Well, sure enough, two stops later a 20-something, most likely grad student, woman plopped in the seat next to him.  Creepy Sprouts Guy responded by giving her a look of shock and horror that I’ve only seen replicated in zombie movies when a non-zombie sees a zombie flailing itself at the window.

How DARE someone sit next to Creepy Sprouts Guy?!

Jesus, it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud.

The next day, Creepy Sprouts Guy was back to eating sprouts and being left alone.

People, the mystery has been solved!  Creepy Sprouts Guy eats sprouts to get a seat alone on the bus.

Friday Fun! (Creepy Sprouts Guy)

December 17, 2010 9 comments

Hello my lovely readers and welcome to the new readers who found me through the Mental Illness Awareness Reading Challenge I’m hosting for 2011!

When you take the same public transit to work every day at the same time, you start to get to know the people on your route.  Generally, not through actual names, but you recognize them and their behaviors, and if you’re an Amanda, you start to give them appropriate nick-names.  Stargate Chick. (She wears an SG-1 patch on her jacket. No, I am not kidding). Hot Scrubs Guy (Um, nuff said?)  Fast-talking Latinas (They always talk to each other really excitedly in Spanish, and I am *dying* to know what they talk about every morning).  The most interesting by far though is Creepy Sprouts Guy.

Creepy Sprouts Guy wasn’t always on my route, and I didn’t notice him when he first appeared.  One day I got on the bus and spotted an empty aisle seat in one of those two seat sections.  I walked toward it and just as I was about to sit, I realized that the guy sitting in the window seat had one of those boxes of sprouts in his lap.  But it was open.  And he was eating them.  By the handful.  Without even thinking I went from ass about to sit to ass quickly standing up and walked to the back of the bus and stood holding the bar.  I wondered if I was over-reacting.  I mean, it’s not that odd to eat sprouts directly from the container on the bus, is it?  Wait.  I couldn’t even think that with a straight face.  I mean, you’re not even supposed to eat on the bus, let alone eat sprouts straight from the container.  Maybe he was running late, and it was the only thing in his fridge, I attempted to rationalize.  A couple stops later, I noticed an older gentleman coming onto the bus.  He headed for the empty seat next to Creepy Sprouts Guy and did the exact same start to sit but then change to standing mid-sit move that I had done a couple of stops earlier.  Clearly the creep-factor was not just impacting me.  By the time we got to my stop, the bus was almost entirely full and still not a single person was willing to sit next to Creepy Sprouts Guy.

The next day I got on the bus and saw the same guy.  And people?  He was eating sprouts. Again!  Intrigued now, I’ve been quietly sneaking glances at him every day.  He’ll put his sprouts in the seat next to him and just grab them by the handful, eating while staring out the window or reading a book.  He’s freakishly skinny.  Like, I can see his collarbones and wrist bones through his winter clothing skinny.  I want to walk up to him, grab the sprouts, and inform him that maybe a bagel would be a better breakfast choice.  He’ll deliberately move his sprouts away if he sees someone needing a seat, but no one will sit next to him.  I can’t explain just what is so creepy about the sprouts eating.  It might be the way he does it.  Slowly.  Deliberately.  As if he’s eating the best cake in the world and the rest of us are clearly stupid for not partaking in it as well.

Then, as if he wasn’t already odd enough, in recent weeks right when our bus gets to a certain bridge, he pulls out one of those old-school combs with the wide-set teeth and combs his hair that’s so blond it’s almost white.  This wouldn’t be so odd, but he has a really short haircut, and the hair clearly doesn’t need to be combed.  He’ll give a few slow, deliberate motions as we cross the bridge, then as soon as we’re over the bridge, he puts the comb away and goes back to eating his sprouts.

My confusion and fascination over his behavior is reaching the point where I just might have to attempt to strike up a conversation with him.  Although I have yet to think up an opener besides, “Morning! Nice day for a bunch of sprouts, eh?”

Overprotected

There is a distinct socioeconomic difference between two parts of the MBTA system:  the commuter rail and the bus.  The commuter rail consists mostly of middle to upper class, white collar, white Americans.  The bus is, well, everyone else.  Suffice it to say, when I ride the bus, which is often, I’m generally in the statistical minority.  In fact, the other night I was the only white person on an almost full bus, as well as the only woman besides the bus driver.  I’m perfectly comfortable riding both, although I must admit, I generally get better stories from riding the bus.  The other night I overheard a hooker planning out her evening on her cell phone.  I digress, back to my point.  I can’t help but notice some distinct differences between the two groups of riders.

When I commute from my abode in the morning, I take the commuter rail.  When I commute from my man’s abode, I take the bus system.  Every morning that I take the commuter rail, there is a white teenage boy on my train car.  He’s probably about 15, clearly on his way to some sort of prep school.  His mother makes him wait in her car with her until the train is pulling up, then she waits to pull away until he is on the train.  He’s often pushy to the other passengers, never respectful to older men and women.

Every morning that I ride the bus, I wind up waiting for a bus connection.  A black boy, who’s probably about 8 years old, almost always is waiting with me.  He’s got his backpack on and breakfast in one hand.  I’m not entirely certain why he’s taking public transit instead of the school bus to school, but there you have it.  He waits for the bus alone.  He rides the bus alone.  He hits the stop request tape himself to make sure the bus driver stops at his stop.  He often reads a magazine on the bus and is always quiet and respectful.

Clearly, whoever the 8 year old’s mother is, she trusts him to get his own butt to school in the morning and to do it safely.  She (or somebody) taught him how to be respectful in public.  Conversely, the 15 year old’s mother doesn’t trust him to get to the train himself, or even to get on it in the morning.  She’s probably tried to teach him to be respectful in public, but the lesson clearly hasn’t sunk in.

An 8 year old is behaving more maturely than a 15 year old.  I can’t help but think that people rise to the expectations you put out.  Now, maybe the 15 year old’s mother tried to give him more responsibility, and he failed so she feels she can’t trust him anymore.  I seriously doubt it though.  What I’ve seen among the middle to upper-class in Boston is a distinct overprotection that leads to a lack of maturity among their children.  Mommy and daddy might think they’re protecting their kids by always having an adult there every second of the day watching, but what that really communicates to the kid is “Mom and Dad don’t trust me,” and “If they don’t think I can handle this on my own, I must not be able to.”

I know some people are probably upset reading about an 8 year old taking the transit system alone.  However, it’s the morning commute.  It’s not like it’s 10pm at night or something.  Nobody can protect someone else perfectly.  Random bad shit happens to kids; it’s a fact of life.  Isn’t it better to teach kids to be self-reliant?  The 8 year old’s mother has clearly taught him valuable life skills.  He can handle getting himself places without her help.  Imagine how much more confident he’ll be when it comes to things like choosing a college in the future.  Since his mother trusts him, he trusts himself.  I doubt the 15 year old will take any agency in such important life decisions.  If he can’t be trusted to do something as simple as his morning commute on his own, how could he possibly make more important decisions on his own?

I know there’s some risk involved in the 8 year old commuting on his own, but I firmly believe that the overall life lesson he’s getting far outweighs any risk.  People don’t grow, mature, or self-actualize if they’re never challenged.  If life is rosy and easy, there’s no reason to.  When these middle to upper-class parents think they’re protecting their kids, they’re really sabotaging their future.  It’s too bad they can’t see it.