Today didn't start out well. I slept through my alarm and didn't wake up until I was about an hour late for work. Unfortunately, that meant that the next train I could catch was the 10:13, which would make me three hours late by the time I got into work. Fuck. But I got on the train and slumped down, trying desperately to get the energy to slide my ticket into the slot on the seat-back in front of me.
As I accomplished this, I noticed this giant middle-aged man sitting on that seat, and he was with a young black woman. He was white. It's not something I ordinarily point out, but it's important to what is about to happen.
"I'm a Catholic," this guy said. "But I'm more like a Christian. I like fiery preachers. I like leaving church feeling riled up. Do you know who Rev. Jesse Jackson is?"
Oh fuck. I'm stuck on the train with a prosthelytizer. I thought if I closed my eyes and dozed off, he wouldn't notice me.
"I love Jesse Jackson. Have you ever heard Farrakahn preach? I also like him a lot. I even like Al Sharpton, even though I find him to be long-winded sometimes."
I started noticing a pattern here.
The woman got off at the next stop, so this guy was left to his own devices. That was when he started going from seat to seat, seemingly to talk to everyone he could. I dreaded my turn until I noticed something peculiar: he only talked to POCs. I thought the implication was kind of awful, like perhaps he felt the need to save them from whatever nonwhite religion that they, in his mind, probably had.
He started talking to an Indian guy, starting with his laptop. "Are you in IT?" he asked.
"Kind of," the Indian guy said. "I'm in HR, but I have an IT background."
"I'm in IT, too," the guy said. I think at one point he mentioned his name was Brian. "So, where are you from? India? Maybe south in India?"
"Yes. I'm from--"
"Yeah, actually. I'm from Chennai."
"Namaste," Brian said. "Do you know what I just said?"
"Does that surprise you that I know that?"
"Uh . . ."
"I speak Hindi."
Oh please. Make him stop.
He did not. He went on for a while. Near the end of the conversation, he said, "Do you mind if I ask you one final question?" As if that was going to be the last question he would ask of the poor guy.
"From an HR perspective, do you find yourself looking at prospective employees' social media? Because a lot of people post stupid things on their Facebook." And he kept going on, asking more questions. The other guy didn't want to play along. Brian clearly had a direction he wanted to push this conversation in, but the Indian guy denied everything.
"Thank you for your time," Brian said. He then moved on to a group of black women. Two were adults, and the third was a child, maybe eight years old. He did the religious stuff, but he also launched into the little girl's scholastic accomplishments. He wanted to know if she got straight A's, which she did. He wanted to know about her intellectual interests, and the others didn't try to stop him, so I'm sure they were cool with it.
I think he meant well. I'm certain he didn't know how condescending he was. I also like that he's interested in cultures other than his own. But he was kind of a dick. Good intentions, but still a dick. Then he got on his phone and started a conversation that swung me around to 100% dick.
He had a certain way with words. He spoke solidly with absolute confidence. He chose the correct words and never equivocated with them. He never stuttered. He never filled his conversations with uh's and ah's and um's that so many people use as a crutch.
He got a potential customer on the line, and he essentially called their website a piece of shit. The guy who made it was completely unprofessional, and he overcharged them a great deal. Good news, though: Brian could fix it for them in a couple of hours, and he would only charge $250 for it.
He must have been interrupted, because he said this next: "Wait a minute. Let me finish what I'm saying." He continued to say that their Facebook presence is a joke, that whoever did the work, which he called a "cluster F," did not know what they were doing. He called the guy "garbage."
"All of these points will be addressed during our meeting scheduled for Monday, the ninth of April. I will see you then." And he hung up without giving the other guy a chance to say anything. Wow.
We arrived at the train station, so he got up and followed the group of black women, addressing mostly the girl, at first about the tooth fairy, which was kind of cute. She was missing a tooth, and he asked how much she got for it. She said five bucks. He was astounded, because back in his day, he got ten cents.
"Do you have a savings account?"
She did not.
"You should have one. When I was a young boy, my father told me that every time I get money, I should save half of it, and I could spend the rest of it. I have done that ever since. So if I gave you ten dollars, how much would you save?"
She answered five.
"Good! I want you to remember this. Put your savings into an S&P 500. Do you understand?"
She did. She said it back to him as SNP.
"S&P. It stands for Standard and Poor's. It's a very inexpensive investment, and it almost always makes you money."
Okay. That's kind of heavy for an eight-year-old. For those wondering about S&P 500's, they took a dive three months ago, but they're currently making a comeback. Huh. Maybe I should make the investment. I took note of it.
We all got off the train, and I lost sight of Brian. When I walked away, he was still talking to the young girl, trying to teach her new words. All right. He was a major asshole. But he meant well. Who knows? Maybe he just made that young girl a future millionaire?