Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 11, 2007

A month or two ago, I boarded a crowded vehicle of public transportation and rushed to sit in the only available seat.

The seat was next to a guy who looked shabby, unwashed and borderline homeless. I figured that everyone else was too snobby to sit next to him.

I sat down. He was a little fragrant. I got out a book and started to read.

Pretty soon, I heard what sounded like my neighbor, muttering to himself. I tried to ignore his voice. Then the following words of his caught my attention:

Well, the body was right there. I was right there next to him.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that the guy was not talking to himself at all. He talked into a small cellphone.

I only pretended to keep reading. Instead, I started intently to eavesdrop.

No, I already saw him.

. . .

Because I was right there in the operating room. With the doctor, when he died on the table. I saw the dead body right there.

. . .

Because I'm the one who has to take them downstairs.

. . .

Downstairs. That's where they go.

. . .

No, don't nobody want to go down there with me.

. . .

Yes, I know. I saw him upstairs.

. . .

Because sometimes, when you're alone in the elevator with the body, your mind it'll start to play tricks on you. Sometimes, you look over and the body -- it looks like that body is moving.

. . .

And you're the only one in there. That's a long ride in that elevator, downstairs.

. . .

It sort of stays with you for a while.

I stopped listening only because my stop came. Rarely have I ever needed as strongly to exert mysef to stand up, as I did that evening.

The incident gave me a lot to wonder about afterward. Among many other things, a small part of me wondered if the incident could not be transformed into a folksy little life lesson, like "Always sit next to the homeless person on public transportation."

A larger part of me decided that such an uptight maneuver would be pretty condescending and nauseating, and considered the encounter (and my fellow passenger's life) sufficently awe-inspiring in its own right, without moralistic commentary from me.

As the weeks passed by, however, I thought and wondered about the encounter less and less. It lost its urgency. The part of me grew that considered a little sermon about it to be too showy and an offensive idea. The same part of me felt that to turn the incident into a blog post would be even worse.

So the purpose of this post is simply to announce that I have decided not to blog about the encounter.