My rides to work are often very quiet. Sometimes I get a chatty driver but mostly the drivers are polite, efficient and silent. This is probably due to my being their first pick up of the day. Not even coffee can energize that hour. Other passengers, too, tend to be quiet, lost in thought gazing out the window. This is fine for me, I'm good to chat, I'm good to watch the city go by ... I'm flexible.
Yesterday morning, though, was a bit different. The driver, right off, apologized and said that the schedule was going to have me zig zagging through the city but, not to worry, I'd be at work on time. So we set about zigging and zagging, picking up and dropping off. Finally we stopped to pick up one last passenger before I was to arrive at work.
She came out of the building with a walker and a huge department store bag. I saw her talking to the driver before I could hear her. When he openned the door I knew I was hearing a fine, aged, whine. I caught a whiff of an unusual scent as she clipped the seatbelt into place. A scent that grew stronger as we travelled.
She complained all the way in. Sat down beside me, I was looking resolutely out the window. She didn't care, she wasn't talking to someone she was simply talking. We heard about three hip replacements and seven surguries on her knees. We heard about disrespectful doctors. Horrible hospitals. Uncaring nurses. Reprobate family members. We heard about her son, who had to go to the hospital tomorrow because "he probably has something serious". She was going to take him because he can't afford a taxi, she can get him there via WheelTrans, 'Mommies do these things, but are Mommies appreciated?' She didn't answer the question, but I'm guessing it was 'no'.
You know those people who can suck the air out of a room with their gloomy outlook on life. The one's that find sadness in every situation? Well, this was her way. She was glorying in all the doom and gloom and pain and victimization, 'poor me' had never been happier!
As we turned onto Weston road ... I could feel the office, a beacon for me ... she pointed at a Big Rig truck and said, 'My husband drove those for years.' 'Oh, yes,' I said while privately thinking, 'oh no, where is this going to go?' Suddenly I recognized the scent. It was the smell of hope, dead and mouldering on the floor.
'You know what happened to him?'
'He's in a home.'
'Worked hard all his life and ended up crazy.'
'Tragic,' I said meaning it. At that point I'd used up my entire daily supply of sympathy (excepting of course for that little cache I've got set aside for emergency bouts of self pity).
'I call him and he tells me to call back, I do but he doesn't answer.'
"Um," I thought to myself, "I'm not so sure that's actually 'crazy'".