Not messing about, he races over and slides along the regularly polished MTR floor. Stopping just short of the sliding doors in what seemed like a move he’d rehearsed in his mind and practiced at this exact location no small number of times. Not with fun in mind though; more a sense of urgency. As I approach what is now ‘his’ door, I notice him muttering quietly to himself, his wispy three inch long beard imitating the erratic behaviour of his jaw. It seems years of missing a seat has driven this man to madness.
As if the thrusting and throbbing of this extraordinary post-post modern live CCTV feed status we refer to as life wasn’t enough, this seat issue has become the heavy dose of bad LSD that we were all told to beware of. The one that never lets up its spiritual grip. Now every seat in every train everywhere is taken. Entranced in scrutinizing life’s latest visual offering of stimulating social oddity, I hang to the right, eager to see him pounce on a piece of prime realty and make that seat his own.
I am embedded in his war zone, reporting to the press conference inside my head, answering their questions, avoiding ambiguity and straying from speculation. Then more captivated than curious, I return to my position, observing another outbreak of humanity within these gentrified temperature-controlled confines. Blending in with my surrounds I watch him quietly scribble his story in the margins of history’s pages. Writing up and down the page, fitting his words in where he can. Starting off with big childish letters before trailing off to an unintelligible scrawl that even he as the author cannot make out.
I try my hardest to decipher this autobiography written out before my eyes, certain that he and I will never crisscross again. The doors open, and he rushes in with the desperate desire for the best deal that possesses a post-Christmas shopper and then simply stands by the pole in the middle of the carriage, turning to face the door, his bag on the floor, quietly insane and unpredictable. His bag is branded “FINEHAPPY” proving this world still abounds in an irony which he most likely does not register in the slightest.
At my stop he moves to the train door and knocks loud and impatiently, as though he knew someone was home; just refusing to answer. While the precaution against lawsuits gently reminds us to “please mind the gap between the train and the platform” in three languages, he pushes through the soon to be passengers, unnerved at their mild annoyance, en-route to his next proud and bitter, yet somehow comforting podium on the upwards escalator; angry it seems, at all this chaos surrounding the vacuum of his personal universe.