5/30/2006 11:48:00 AM|||Andy|||
It was about 93 degrees outside. It’s the kind of heat that makes you grateful for an air-conditioner at home, and if you don’t have one, you’re grateful for a ride in the car. Battling swamp ass becomes a high priority.

Living through many summers in central Pennsylvania there’s a familiarity that comes with this kind of heat. It’s an intimacy that is quickly forgotten come winter, and quickly recalled come summer.

We pulled up to the train station, my family and I, and exited the car to stand under the shade of the train station’s shelter over the black tarmac. As we passed by a few people I over heard someone say, “yep, sure is slow today” to no one in particular.

His Pennsylvania accent was thick matching the tinted, but obviously prescription eyeglasses he was wearing. Standing about 5’3” with shorts on that weren’t dirty but looked like he had worn them a few days in a row, was Bob. His socks reached up from his shoes toward his knee caps but stopped just about three quarters of the way up his shins.

My initial reaction is “Great, another weirdo…oh well, at least he isn’t coming over here.” As if my inner-monologue was broadcast over the train station speaker, over walks Bob.

I didn’t like Bob from the beginning. Being in Lewistown, Pennsylvania (not Lewisburg, but just as remote, and much lower class) the certainty of awkward conversation hit me like a vodka tonic hits a Mormon.

My parents and sister actually talked to the guy at first. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was being perfectly New York: arms crossed, shoulders up, back turned, eyes pulled to critical slits and a look on my face that says “See those rocks down there? Leave soon or I will start throwing them at you.”

One of the other fellows at the train station tugs on my bag. I turn and look at him and he points to Bob with his right hand while making the crazy finger to the side of his head with his left.

Meanwhile, my dad is talking to this guy like they're best friends. Dad is a bit of a train enthusiast and, according to Bob, he comes to the stations a lot to watch the trains. Because he’s interested in trains? Nah, because “there’s lots of pretty girls that get off them.”

It was at this point that my sister put on her long sleeve shirt and I stepped in front of her.

My dad continued to talk to the guy, which, in hindsight wasn’t the worst idea. He had him turned looking towards the train tracks and involved in conversation all about the trains (which my dad probably already knew).

Then the station attendant walks over and says “Train’s gonna be about 45 minutes late – should be here by 6.”

Awesome. Because having Bob's company for another 50 minutes is exactly what was on my wishlist at this point.

Bob had managed to orient himself to face my sister more and proceeded to try and shake my hand and asked me my name. I proudly told him, “Ted.” Then Bob started to talk all about how he was so happy to have some pleasant civilized conversation and then mentioned how lucky he was to have gotten to say a few words to my sister.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I said “Look Bob, this is the last time I’m going to see my family before I go to Spain, and we’d like to spend the time together. Please leave.” He pretended not to understand. I expanded myself a little. He got the picture. “Let’s go drive someplace dad,” I said as I huddled the rest of my family off the train platform.

We spent some quality time at the local Burger King and headed back to the station about 20 minutes later. I said my goodbyes in the car and told my family I’d send a text message if Bob was gone (the station attendant had called someone to take him out of there), and he was. My family came out, I wished some more fare well’s, and I got on the train New York.

It’s not often I actually interact with crazy people. I avoid them like the plague in the city and I’m a big enough guy that I don’t get harassed when I’m out and about. Bob really pissed me off.

I understand that he most likely can’t help what’s wrong with him. I know it isn’t his fault. But you know what? It’s totally inappropriate. He made my sister feel gross, he got me super pissed off that I couldn’t have just spent some time with my family, and he pretty much ruined my day because he likes to hang around train stations being a pervert.

Having a problem you can’t help doesn’t mean it makes it okay. It also doesn’t mean that no one should take responsibility for this guy. Where is his family? He was obviously not too old to have no family members left. What about local authorities? The guy is literally at the train station every day, harassing people and ruining days.

My big question is, how am I supposed to react? Ignoring him might’ve worked but for some reason the others in my family decided to talk to him a little – which we all know just invites crazy people and weirdos to bother you as long as you don’t say “You know what? You’re creeping me out. Get out of here or, you remember those rocks? I thought you did.” I can’t just hit the fucker, although I really wanted to, but violence solves nothing. It also brings me a down a level and I am not prepared to degrade myself on the account of some pervert. So assuming ignoring them doesn’t work, what action is there to take? Call the police? Their response time would be to long to be effective. Leaving was okay, except we didn’t want to leave. He MADE us leave. What do you do?

I can’t imagine being a female in New York. I see the construction workers and the crazies and I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. You can’t travel alone. You can’t be out late alone. It’s terrible.

I hope someday Bob gets what’s coming to him. I’m sure he will as this big wheel we’re on tends to turn things out right in the end. I’m not sure what may befall Bob and I’m certainly not wishing anything tragic – but I am hoping for some sort of reckoning. Maybe a situation in which Bob isn’t so comfortable so that maybe he’ll seek some help for his problem.