MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Not just because this happened…did I decide this needed to be subheaded Unicorn Edition.  But also because I fin my unlikely group of attendees at the situationally Friday Monday Night Supper Club to be unique in so many ways that they are unicorns in their own right.

I considered subheading this Full House as a cute entendres about the two married, gay and (most rare, at least in PDX) monogamous gay men and the three single gay men that seem to be the last three gay men in Portland that not only believe being single and feeding your libido a steady stream of strangers is not the apex of the human relationship condition, but also possibly the last three capable of actually entering into a relationship as an equal.

A full house, if you will, for all you card players out there.

Plus, five grown men and one torbi with an oversized catitude is literally a full house in my little condo.I joked about Myrtle being my typical Friday night date, but when The Canadian and The Cajun arrived, I dispatched The Silver Fox to bring them up and Myrtle made herself comfy at the bar.  

I originally called this monthly-ish gathering of friends Monday Night Supper Club because I hosted the inaugural edition selfishly on my Saturday night.  Since then, my friends have moved it once to Saturday to accommodate my schedule changing and then it bounced to Fridays because people do shit on the weekends in summer, like leave town.  However, the moniker hasn’t changed, although Diezel was kicking no around an acronym he liked for a while, but between us we never really landed on something that worked, so I still call it MNSC.

Everyone else just calls it “dinner”.

Oh, and now it happens to fall on my Sunday night.  Admittedly, I’m a little sleep deprived as I tap this out on the way to work after squeezing in about 4.5 hours in the rack.  This was after a less than smooth segue from hosting duties to slumber last night.

But I only left one dirty dish in the sink!

Well, one dirty dish and a decanter with about two undrank glasses of wine left in it.

Talk about a Unicorn!

At least in my house.

But, in addition to four bottles of wine, the menu included my go-to carbonara, summer favorite caprese salad – with mozzarella balls and halved cherry tomatoes from mom’s (and dad’s!) garden and a Watergate Salad courtesy of The Cajun’s kitchen that had me unreasonably excited!I didn’t snap a pic of the pasta, once it’s made, it’s eating time not picture taking time!

I love carbonara.

Disputed as it is in the pantheon of real Italian food – some placing it on the same level of authentic Italian as Americano coffee – carbonara is an easy Italian.  No huge prep, no super processy sauce…just simple carb-coma-inducing, hearty goodness that takes little more time to prepare than boiling the pasta.

I like to mis en place before I cook and clean as I go when I cook, this dish is perfect for that!

Dice a shallot and some garlic…”just a hint of garlic!” was a favorite exclamation from the kitchen of my turn of the century neighbor that inspired – or nurtured – my MNSC idea.

Slice some pancetta.

Grate some pecorino.

Poof!  Prep done!

Then it’s just boil the water, put the pancetta on to brown before throwing in the roots while the pasta cooks, separate some eggs and mix them in with the parm – and heavy whipping cream, if you like. 

Once the pasta is drained, throw in the cheese mix and stir it all together with the pancetta and it’s time to eat!

So.

Good.

Which is exactly what company of this caliber deserves!

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Monday, Part V

Well, I just missed my train to work.

Hardly surprising, given my morning…but it all started out so promising this morning.

I.

Had.

A.

Plan.

It’s my Friday, you see.  Typically, I’ve been working later shifts on my Fridays to have more cross over time to support and develop the junior managers.  Well, on my Thursdays and Fridays, but now I have a spin class I go to on my Thursday night, so…screw ’em.

I joke.

But I’m still giving them one more night a week than they had been getting, so there is that.

Anyway, the added benefit here is that this gives my body a practice day for sleeping in on my weekend, so I’m not waking up at 5 am with my body patting itself on the back for the extra sleep.  Normally, I’ll wake up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:45 to be at work by 5 or 6.  On my late day, I’ll set an optimistic alarm for 8:30, but I’m usually awake by 7, at the latest.

Today, I was up and at ’em at 6:00.  I had my laundry going and had showered, dressed and answered work emails by 7:30.  I was then on my way to do my recycling…my goal being as few errands and chores left over on my weekend as possible to maximize my screwing around time.

The bottle drop opens at 8 and I was seething about being fourth in line behind three of the founding members of the Portland Millionaire’s Club.

90 minutes later, caught up on all my Facebook and Instagram goings-on and Words With Friends plays, I was still waiting.  

Next.

In.

Line.

The guy in front of me was by far the slowest – and judging by his relatively meager cart load of recycling – and poorest of the three people ahead of me.  I moved to leave so that I could go home, drop off my recycling and make it to the 9:24 train to PDX when the guy turns to me and says, “I’ll take those for ya, if you’re not gonna stay!”

Like he’s being helpful.

I’m already pissy because my recycling will have to intrude on my weekend.  Also, its reached the point where it’s about more than I can comfortably carry on foot.  If much more accumulates, I’ll have to make two trips or impose on a friend with a car.

<Looking at you, Silver Fox>

But I also realize his slow and challenged behavior was part of an act.  He wanted me to just drop my recycling and leave them for him to claim.

Nice try, my street bound Rockefeller.

You’ve got to get up pretty early to catch me before the tidal wave of grumpiness overwhelms my day.  I only recycle now – mostly – because of my grumpiness.  Most of which – in this situation – I actually blame equally on homeless people and apartment/condo dwellers, since we are largely to blame for triggering the bottle redemption deposit to go from $.05 to $.10.  

The other reason I recycle is cuz I’m cheap and a dime is a lot of money to just throw down a recycling chute.

So, no.  But, thanks…I’ll bring my recycling back tomorrow.

What iced my Monday cake for me was walking the last block of my foot commute to the train at 9:22 and seeing my Redline train to the airport pulling away.

Calmly, I walked the last block while screaming, “Fuuuuuuuuck!!!” inside, pulled out my phone, texted the boss I’d be a few minutes late and started this blog post.

Also thinking, “You’ve got to sign up for the Bottle Drop recycling program, you cheap, old bastard.”  Seriously, the only reason I have resisted is because I have to buy the drop bags and I estimate that they cost about 10% of my overall redemption.  But I’m thinking the frustration it would relieve and the amount of time I would save standing in the aroma of despair would probably be worth $.01 per bottle…there’s my bright side of this fifth Monday of my work week.

Also, I was just reminded that I made plans for tonight.  They are about three hours before I get off work, so I get to share my shit iced crap cake of a day with someone else, now.  

I could really use a mental health day.

Monday, Part V

The Galby Effect

“What bar do you frequent?”

This was the question I was asked on Facebook Messenger by a friend coming to town next week as we talked about getting together.

Innocuous enough…for a normal person.

Awkwardly, my preferred watering hole – the neighborhood feeling but still gay – Fox & Hounds sold earlier this summer in a transaction that surprised everyone.  Even the former owner’s employees.

I was kinda irked, since I’d proposed buying the place a couple of years ago and was shot down because the owner had no interest in selling.

But, because I’m not a rash or hysterical person, I continued to go there once a week or so for a drink on my way home from work.

What?  

Fine.  

I’m not saying I’m rash or hysterical…we can agree to disagree.  However, a conveniently located beer on the way home from work trumps a lot of petty differences.

I was more irked that this new owner was making pretty sudden and drastic changes for someone who claimed that everything was going to stay the same.

I didn’t even balk that she was not-so-subtly turning the place straight.  Or trying.  But when she lost the bar’s lottery privileges, it was over.  If no one is going to talk to me while I imbibe – please, don’t – then I want to play some video lottery.

For no reason, clearly.   I mean, how could lottery be more fun than people?!?

Since then, I’ve been hanging out at either my neighborhood wine shop/bar (Thelonius Wines) or taproom (Big Legrowlski) and not really missing gay bars.  

Because:  don’t talk to me.

Yeah, I’m weird.

But having to cop to an absence of alignment with a local gay bar to my visiting friend, I was forced to acknowledge that The Galby Effect was once again rearing its awkward head.

I last noticed it during the early days of the Big Legrowlski.  I’d go and there’d be a respectable number of patrons for a new business.  Y’know, a few peppered here or there…nothing too crowded.  Sometimes I’d find myself alone when I walked in, but others would trickle in behind me soon enough.

No biggie.

But once the bar started to take off with a pretty regular business, 2-3 people lined up at any given point…that’s when I noticed it.

I’d walk in and do my normal Xtopher-esque entrance, nothing too Kramer-ish, and people were too busy helping other customers to give me anything other than a brief wave or smile.  Not even both!  Strictly one or the other.

Then I’d get my beer, find my seat and take a few sips, only to discover when looking up five minutes later that I was suddenly the only patron left.

It’s like Bar Rapture.

I’m the St Patrick of boozehounds.  Yeah, yeah…the whole snake thing is a bourbon legend.

It happened time and again, too.

Time of day, day of week…no variables mattered.  I could go in at 9 on a Friday and ten minutes later, pffft.  

Empty.

“What, they’re all going to the same show?” I’d ask, incredulous.

Getting a <palms up> from the bartender in response.

Anyway, I thought that I’d somehow shaken the curse of driving a bar’s business into the ground.  Certainly, my lack of affiliation as a regular with and local gay bar can be blamed on the new owner…but taking a broader view, I think The Galby Effect can be blamed for the sudden and unexplained decision to sell.  

My only “proof”, if you will:  I’ll wander into the former owner’s other bar once a month or so and when he’s there, he just looks guilty.  Obviously, he knows he’s a turncoat to the community and can’t explain what in the world came over him, so he just sits there awkwardly thinking, “Don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me” on repeat until I walk away.

Hey, buddy…it’s ok.  I understand.

The Galby Effect.

The Galby Effect

Bittersweet Sixteen

I think most of us remember where we were that morning.

Regardless of where we were when it happened, collectively, I think it’s appropriate to assume that five minutes later we were all super glued in horror to our televisions as we watched what became the slow collapse of the symbols of our international presence in the global community.

Those towers may also have been a big part of our sense of security and imperviousness to some degree, too.

Our Big Sticks, if you will.

Well, this morning at work, we will – of course – honor the memory of this day.  At 5:46, the entire airport will observe a moment of silence.  A fairly humbling moment in my airport work environment, given the co-opted weapons of that day.

As always, on this anniversary, I will be a bit dis-eased with the notion of air travel…more so than normal.  I’m glad that I won’t be getting on a plane this morning.

But, while it makes me simultaneously humble and proud to acknowledge this day in our nation’s history, last night at work something happened that made me even more proud.

I was in our C concourse store and a newer associate asked what all the hubbub was around the gate right outside our store.  He’d cocked his head toward the sea of people basically blocking off the entire concourse and I responded, “It’s probably just a bunch of Southwest Airlines customers demonstrating that they’ve forgotten what they learned in second grade.”  I was referring, of course, to Southwest’s unassigned seating, which – try as they might to instill organization into carnival seating – regularly produces similar results throughout the day.

“Oh.  I was just wondering, since there’s a bunch of uniforms and security…and bagpipes…”, he said in an explanation that just kinda ended in silence versus a period.

My first thought was, “Bagpipes!”

But then I explained to him the airport Color Guard, which I thought only Alaska Airlines did and had been discontinued.  Maybe Southwest picked up the practice.

Then I went and joined the perimeter of the crowd, because in my near-year working here, I hadn’t yet seen the entire process unfold and thought I’d missed my chance.  Oftentimes, there’s a state senator on hand, if they happen to be in town…and congress is in recess.

No such luck, as far as I could see.  And I would have loved to tell Merkley that I appreciate his service.  But this moment was about other people’s service to our country.

The military, airport police and TSA reps were all assembled with the Color Guard around the exit from the jetway onto the concourse.

There was the bagpiper.

A swelling crowd of people.

Of course, a passerby choosing me to inquire as to the goings on.  As if she doesn’t understand OEG.  Or, that I have a pleasant countenance and demeanor.

As if.

But, I tell her and she says, “Oh, that’s wonderful!  My husband fought in Vietnam.”  I replied that we all knew the welcome home that had been received by him at the time and that it was a shame.

She wandered off and started taking pictures as the bagpipes played and the Color Guard came to attention.

And the applause began.

And continued.

And built, with no crescendo in sight.

It was a little like the applause between the “last song” and the encore at a concert.

Finally, the vets started to appear.  In full wheelchair regalia.

You gotta remember that these old guys are being honored for a war that ended anywhere from 50-75 years ago, depending on the vet.  These guys definitely looked like WWII vets.  There were women being wheeled off, too.  I was not entirely sure whether maybe they were WACs or military spouses, but either way, they also served and sacrificed.

I was super impressed by one old dog who was high diving people as he was wheeled by.  I was still smiling at his spirit when an octogenarian gal came – literally – sashaying off the jetway and onto the concourse.  All smiles and short dance bursts and arms waving.

People were still clapping.

And filming,

And tearing up.

Even me.

And I was proud to be an American.

I was so engrossed in watching the procession that I didn’t get any great pix, but here’s a few I snapped as the event ended.

That guy in the Duck gear was the husband of the woman I spoke to before the vets deplaned.  I went over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

Before congratulating him on his team’s sound thrashing of Nebraska, of course.

Bittersweet Sixteen

And Then…?

I’ve been working on my first post in about a month.  It’s going crazy, so I thought I’d try a lil MAX Blog Challenge post on my way to work today.

Also, it’s 4:05 in the morning.

But, looking for inspiration on my way in to work today, two things came to mind:

First, I’m thinking about trying to leave at noon today.  Normally, Mondays are my “short” days…usually 6:00-3:00, since I have acupuncture after work.  Knowing myself, if I try to leave at noon, I’ll be outta there at 12:30, and that’s still eight hours.  So, there’s that.

Second, I remembered seeing Jeo at the airport the other day and that made me smile.  We didn’t speak, he was walking toward his flight at my normal pace and talking to another flight attendant.  I became aware of them as our paths coalesced, it’s just unusual for people to move at or maintain my pace. 

Still, I didn’t realize it was him until after we passed the Pet Relief Area after someone’s pet had died – only possibility, given the odor – and I heard Jeo say, “Yes.  That is a smell!” as he passed through the area.  I half-turned my head and chuckled.

But still didn’t realize it was Jeo.

I was pushing s rolling rack of souvenir tees to each of our stores to fill in and they hopped on the moving sidewalk.  That added momentum carried them ahead of me and that’s when I realized it was Jeo.  

He either didn’t notice me or didn’t say anything.  Given his pace, I let him keep going instead of interrupting to say hi.  I figured he was in a rush to get to his flight.

Plus, it was around 3:00 and I looked like hell toward the end of a long day.

Jeo has only recently come back into my life.  We stopped talking two years ago this coming Fall.

About a month ago, I was on a MAX home in a car filled with fucking hot men.

Not just hot.

Fucking hot.

For instance, the fireplug of a construction worker sitting right in front of me.  He had me plenty distracted, even before he struck what I call the Beauty Pose.

The Beauty Pose is when people turn sideways in their seat and put a leg up on the seat, resting their chin on a fist that is propped on their knee.  It’s the classic “look at me/don’t look at me” posturing.

So, The Fireplug got off at my stop, which amused me.  I further amused myself with the notion of stopping at The Fox & Hounds for a beer on the off chance he stopped in, too.  He’d gone left, heading up Davis and I’d gone right up Everett, so anything was possible.

But I didn’t.  I was being good.

At 4th St, I realized he hadn’t gone into F&H.  Gotta love catching a flash of safety yellow out of the corner of your eye at a crosswalk!

That brief glimpse kept me amused for several more blocks until he was no longer with me at Broadway.

Whatever.  That was my longest relationship of 2017.

A couple of blocks later, someone touched my back.

Ooooh!

I turned to see a rather attractive man that wasn’t The Fireplug.

It was Jeo, but I didn’t realize that until he said, “I thought that was you!”

He went on to say he’d been thinking about me recently and was happy to run into me.

When I asked why, he told me that he regretted leaving things the way he had after I’d served him some “realness” – his word – that he hadn’t wanted to hear.

He felt bad about it and had been looking for a way to apologize since he realized I’d been within my rights.

Hey, I’ve seen enough sitcoms to know that when a friend kisses you unexpectedly after a couple seasons…things are off track.

I appreciated his gesture and then wondered aloud at his presence in my hood, since he lived in St Johns.

Turns out he had moved into NW and was on his way home.  That was also when I learned he had become a flight attendant.

This was also when he remembered that I was heading home and said, “Don’t you live around here, still?”

“Yeah, a couple blocks back” I replied.

“You walked extra blocks for me?!?” he said, genuinely touched by my nothing effort.

Shucks.  “Well, yeah, it was nice to catch up” I said, gesturing that I should head home to feed the Mistress Myrtle.

He gave me a hug and said it was nice to catch up.  I suggested a coffee or drink at the airport one day and he agreed.

We were still hugging.

I’d attempted an end between sentences, but he deepened his hug, like a cuddly constrictor.

I’d forgotten what a hugger he was and re-engaged, appreciating his quirk.

And that was it.  No “And Then”.

We’ve traded a few texts, but nothing has happened except that random sighting.

And a guy restoring my faith in men, to some degree.

That’s enough.

And Then…?

I Tried

If you hang around me long enough, you’ll hear me say – in a strictly non-pejorative way, I swear – “Either you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem”.

Or something like that.

After writing about the pending increase in Oregon’s Bottle Deposit last year, I knew that I was a part of the problem and committed to action. 

In my own charmingly procrastination prone style.

$.10 a can or bottle is a good chunk of change to literally throw away.  

Well, recycle.

Whatever.

Fine, it’s a good chunk of change to figuratively throw away.

What I ended up with was a utility room chock full of empty cans and bottles.  Heck, some were even non-alcoholic!  I was even bringing home the empty soda bottles from my lunches at work.  I was Xtopher in action.

Which, with the slightest amount of effort becomes:  Xtopher inaction.

A new problem.

Luckily, attempting to live on a budget and save money on my…quaint lil paycheck finally lit the fire needed to get me to recruit The Silver Fox as a driver and haul my recyclables to the Safeway.  

Call him conscripted.

I had fully intended to just walk to the Safeway every other week or so with a bag of empty cans and bottle jingling over my shoulder.  I try to go every Friday to stock up on lunch supplies for the coming week, anyway.

I couldn’t shake the mental image of me doing my best homeless person shamble there the streets of Portland’s swanky Pearl District.  My natural procrastination was well fed by this imagery.

Which is how I ended up in The Foxes SUV for a ten-ish block trip.  He dropped me off, parked and made the most of the inconvenience by going inside the store for some much needed oranges…

“When life gives you lemons, exchange them for oranges!” – The Fox.

Ok, he didn’t say that.

But about the time he was walking down the stairs from the parking garage to the store, I was standing in front of the Pearl Safeway’s two reverse vending recycling machines.

Oh, excuse me…the two broken reverse vending recycling machines.

Fuck me.

A homeless guy I’d woken up by walking in groggily said that someone had gone into the store to alert them to the crisis.  That sounds helpful until you factor in my uncertainty in his ability to tell me what day it was.

A very nice employee showed up as I was hauling my bags toward the ramp to the parking garage and offered to hand count my returns for me.  I gratefully accepted.  Then she suggests moving somewhere less stinky.

So I’m standing outside on the sidewalk watching helplessly while she counts my empty cans and bottles.

Of course, a crowd of homeless people with a couple bucks worth of cans each starts to gather ’round.

Oh, the optics.

If I harbored any hope of a future relationship, this would be the time our paths crossed.

$11.40 worth of counting later, I’m on my way.  I’m feeling rather unaccomplished and briefly consider drinking even less beer and soda than I have lately.  

Wine bottles are somehow exempt from the Bottle Bill.

That night, I’m wandering by The Brodega by my house and notice their new taps are featuring Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack and make a date with The Fox to grab one the next night.  

Hashtag: brainstorm

They also fill growlers.

That’s the key to my participation in improving the recycling issue: refillable growlers instead of six packs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle after all!

So, in I walk with my growler the next night.  They fill it with an extraordinary amount of waste, but I’m kinda ok with it since The Brodega is she-she expensive and this growler will probably cost $19, based on their normal over-pricing.  By comparison, a growler fill at The Big Legrowlski is $16, I think.

$12.

That’s what my growler fill fist at The Brodega.

My favorite goddamned beer at bargain basement prices AND I just juked the whole bottle tax vs recycling conundrum.

Yes, please!

Hashtag: winning.

I Tried

That’s Just So Carlos!

Today was a tough day at work, falling somewhere between “complete shit” and “uphill battle”.

My MAX ride home after 11 hours of giving my nose a good grind put an unexpected smile on my face…but it, too, ended well after getting off to a touch and go start.

What I typically enjoy about my time off from work is that it’s solitude.  After spending however long tending to the needs of customers and staff – I call them my internal customers – and most importantly, the needs of the business, well…I can get a little…Garbo-y.

The luxury of choosing who I will spend my free time with and what I will or will not do doesn’t start as soon for me as it does others.  Mine starts not when my car door slams, rather when my front door does.

Ish.

I’m usually greeted by Myrtle screaming at me after being gone literally half a day.  Particularly when I’m working an alt-schedule as I am this week.  Sunday was 10 am to 1 am, today and tomorrow are 10 to 8…although I failed by an hour in my departure time today.  Mistress Myrtle let me know as soon as I came off the firewell stairs – yes, I can walk up stairs again! – with a frantic mewling that I could hear in the hallway.

How dare you leave me unattended so long!”

“Need I remind you that dinner is at 6 pm, sharp?!?”

Or, being merely human, she worries about my ability to survive in the wild for prolonged periods.  Either way, all is forgiven once I crack open that Fancy Feast!

Until she remembers that she hates all food, all the time and starts complaining about my cooking.

But!

Let’s get back to what I just realized is my respite from needs and demands…my MAX commute home.

I’m waiting on the MAX platform, resisting the urge to consider what ball I could have let drop that would have prevented my seeing a train pulling out as I came out of the airport.

13 minutes.

That’s how long I get to tap my toes until the next train.  At this hour, the Red Line trains are single car affairs.  I surreptitiously assess the size of the crowd trickling in as we wait for the transit security guy to inspect the car before we load in.  

It’s not too bad.  It won’t be crowded.

I also use this time to gauge which end of the car to head to, preferring the front of the train.  There’s several people with clunky bags at the rear and just one single fella with a small bag at the front door.

I’m actually only one of three people that aren’t jockeying for position outside each open door waiting for the inspection to be complete.

Human nature…when I think of it as an individual, he’s that kid that runs headfirst into walls with a bucket over his head for…protection?

It’s not like we’re going anywhere for – I check the departure clock – 6 minutes.  What is the friggin’ rush to board?  Simply being told to wait until the inspection is over?

<eye roll>

Anyway, I start sidestepping my way toward the front of the train and arrive there to see the somewhere-on-the-autism-scale inspector come off the train and bow slightly while making a surprising sweeping gesture toward the doors, welcoming the passengers on board with a flourish.  I’m not sure of the actual intent behind the gesture, but I feel myself grinning.

There’s only four of us in the elevated front of the train.  I think there’s 19 seats, five rows of two on either side of the aisle.  One in the front row on the right side of the driver’s compartment to allow the driver room to enter and exit.  

We’re pretty spaced out.  The guy with the small roller bag is on the left in the third row, I sit on the right in the fourth row.  He gives me a strange glance as we’re each settling in.  The other two people that didn’t rush the doors are in front of me.

Ever since the MAX stabbings just under three weeks ago I tend to not sit in the fifth row.  The front of the train is elevated, but someone from below could easily reach over the unprotected seat back.  

I may have a little MAX PTSD.

My stop is the 12th stop.  There’s a lot that can happen in 12 stops.  It’s the retail witching hour:  the stores have closed and many of the riders coming on board look as if they are just leaving work.

Mostly, people Mother Teresa would bitch-slap get on.

The guy that sits behind me after boarding at the third stop sounds like he’s snoring through his nose.

I just sit there and try to look normal as I imagine nails on a chalkboard with each breath.  

He gets off two stops later.  

A few stops later I hear someone – someone who sounds permanently stoned – talking behind me.  I put up my mental buffer against street urchins panhandling for change, but realize that’s not what’s happening here.

I turn around.

There’s a kid hanging forward up the stairs from one of the yellow support poles.  He’s asking the new, silent breathing rider behind me if he knows where the Roseland is and whether this will take him there.

He sees me and looks plaintively up at me, asking me if this bus goes to the Roseland.

I check my desire to tell him he’s on a train while also registering his peach fuzz mustache and yellowing bruise around his left eye.

And his friendly, lost eyes.

I tell him it does take him there, but stop short of telling him how many stops there are…I’m not sure he’s really in any shape to keep track of stops.  He heads back to the other end of the train with a genuinely grateful “Thank you, sir!”

I’m mentally preparing myself to go out the rear doors when I get off and tell him the next stop is the one he wants.  Doing something nice for a stranger almost always makes me feel good.

I can hear him talking in the back with his friend about how great the show is going to be.  

We get to the Rose Quarter stop and I can hear them start talking about whether or not this is their stop.  I’m mentally answering them with a “no” as the doors start to close and I realize one of them decided it was their stop and ran out.  The kid who had asked me if this was his bus had not made it off and we’re pulling away.  

I’m hearing people tell him he can get off at the next stop and come back over and thinking their show must have been at the Moda Center in the Rose Quarter and not at the Roseland.  

He’s yelling that he has to get off.

Suddenly, he runs puts me and lands chest first against the driver’s door, fists balled and beating the door over his head, yelling at the driver to stop.

“I have to get off!  My friend is back there.  Let me off!”

I’m low-grade alarmed at the outburst, but I can see his energy waning as quickly as he burst by me.  My alarm turns to concern that the driver will call the cops, ruining the potential concert he was so excited about.

He leaves and heads back to the rear of the train,

I can hear him mumbling about how he has to get off the train.  I turn around and he’s leaning on a pole by the rear doors, dejectedly moaning his defeated mantra about getting back to his friend.

It’s kind of heartbreaking.

I realize that he’s been holding the driver call button down while he talks.  He lets it go and the driver is in the middle of a surprisingly calm reply about getting off at the next stop to go back to the Moda Center as we come off the Steel Bridge, this is my stop.

I get up and move to the back of the train.

He sees me coming, locks eyes on me and blurts out, “Hey!  Sir!  I know you’re the manager…can you make the driver stop and let me off?!?”

What?  Lol.

“Is your concert at the Roseland or the Rose Quarter?” I ask.

“The Roseland!  And my friend got off and the doors closed and I’m stuck and I have to get back there!” he frantically rambles.

He sounds like an upset toddler, I expect instant huge tears to erupt from his eyes and streams of sudden mucous to run from his nose at any moment,

I tell him his stop is two away.

“What?!?” he giggles with relief.

“Your friend got off too early”, I say.

“Oh my god, that’s so great!  Gimme a high five.” he yells.  Manically happy again.

I high five him and he asks my name, extending his hand and telling me his name is Carlos.  I tell him my name and he pumps my hand vigorously, saying, “I’m so faded man!”

Before he releases my hand, the train jostles and he’s thrown off balance, his grip on my hand being the only thing keeping him upright.

I help steady him, mentally registering the odd freeze frame we must have been.

I move toward the now open door, tossing a “You get off at the next stop, ok?” over my shoulder as I exit.  

He followed me off the train, still babbling his thanks.  I’m not entirely sure he realizes he’s no longer on the train.  I gently turn him around – don’t make it weird, Diezel – and tell him to get back on.  “Just one more stop”, I say, worried he won’t make it and I’ll somehow end up in charge of him.

“Just one more stop!” he replies as he stumbles through the door.

As the doors close, bouncing off his head before reopening to let him board.

I turn and head home, grinning like a fool.  My cruddy work day pushed to the rear of my consciousness.

Oh, Carlos

That’s Just So Carlos!