Friday, March 16, 2007

Some More Scenes From the Subway

I haven't written about the subway in a long time! The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, ever since I started taking the GO train/bus, my travel time in the subway has been cut by more than half, thereby decreasing my exposure to the interesting happenings and characters that dwell there. Secondly, I think I've been exposed to these interesting happenings and characters enough, that nothing that goes on there even phases me anymore.... Except maybe for the following:

After a long day, I'm feeling really sleepy, so I close my eyes and try to sleep as the subway train jerks and squeals and screeches along.... the train stops at Spadina station and the doors open... I open my eyes to see a man come in with an obvious movement disorder.... he displays random, uncontrolled, jerky, and rapid movements.... the proper term in chorea, but I'm too tired to verify it with the files in my head, and much too tired to think of a diagnosis, so I close me eyes and try to sleep again... this way, I won't appear to be staring at him since he decide to sit right in front of me..... all of a sudden the train comes to a screeching halt in the middle of the tunnel and stays motionless for several minutes.... man with movement disorder jumps up suddenly and starts yelling!! I can't make out what he's saying, but he's yelling and flailing his arms around 30 cm from me!! The whole subway car turns to look in our direction.... What do I do?... I pretend not to be phased and I pretend to sleep again.... Huntington's Disease I think to myself.... there can be cognitive and psychiatric sequelae late in the disorder I think.... I keep my eyes slightly open to make sure he doesn't hit me.... the train starts up again, and he calms down.... I'm wide awake at this point, but I keep my eyes closed....

I realize that I'm in youngin country from St. George to Queen's Park stations, coz a lot of the conversations I hear go something like this: "like oh my god! could you believe blah blah blahed blah blah blah? Like what the heck is that, like doesn't blah blah blah like blah blah blah?! Like come on, like that's like crazy!! blah blah blah like blah blah like blah"... okay, do these girls actually go to the University of Toronto?!.... scary thing is that I understood what they said.....

It's the last day of the month, and like the excellent procrastinator that I am, I have left buying a new subway monthly pass to the last day.... needless to say the line-up at the Union Station ticket booth is long.... as I wait patiently in line I observe a little old man with the whitest of hair trying to purchase some subway tokens from the automated machine.... the machine doesn't seem to be working, so the little old man walks away.... he looks so frail and pale as he shuffles along.... he walks around to the other machines, I'm pretty sure those work, but he doesn't seem to get his tokens.... then he walks to the turn-style, what is he looking for.... he seems disoriented and continually fidgets with his wallet in his back pocket.... I suddenly realize that he may be short of cash, he's been trying to put a toonie ($2 coin) in the machine, but it think a token costs $2.25?.... realizing that I will miss my bus to suburbia if I continue to wait in line, I walk over the old gentleman, who at this point is watching other passengers buy tokens from the automated machine.... "excuse me sir" I say as I tap him on the shoulder "would you like to have my metropass, it's still good for one day".... he looks at me surprised, "oh thank you".... "you're welcome, take care now".... I run to catch my bus to suburbia....

While on the bus to suburbia, I think about the old gentleman, and hope he got home safe and sound... I think about my own parents as well, who themselves are getting older.... as the eldest offspring, it is my responsibility to ensure that my parents will be well taken care of, so they will never be short of cash, or will never have to wander around in the chaos of the subway.... I worry about them more and more, as their health fails them.... time has a disturbing way of flying by.... I remember the little old gentleman with the whitest of hair, and my own parents, as I read this poem:

A Dead Rose
O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat, -
Kept seven years in a drawer-thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day, -
If breathing now, - unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn, -
If shining now, - with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was, -
If dropping now, - would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat, -
If lighting now, - would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive, -
If passing now, - would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete, -
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold! -
Lie still upon this heart-which breaks below thee!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning



tina said...

you know what types of people that gets me misty-eyed? OLD PEOPLE.. frail ones...

and reading this.. i know how you feel. the thought of them being there walking alone.. soo old. GAH. ....

Anonymous said...


I am going through my email on my 'home' computer that I don't use that much...over 3000 emails in my inbox. Married life is good. I was looking for the link to your blog to see the pics you had of the wedding. Drop me a line or an email soon and lets get together. Your blog is very soothing. Thanks.


Shoshana said...

Where is it written that a first born takes care of the parent?

I am first born too, and it seems like I take care of everyone. I love doing it, but I swear, there are days when I really, really wanted to be not the first born.

ghee said... made me sad,Angelo..but i really like the way you write,in fact you`re one of my favorite writers here in blogosphere.yeah,I consider bloggers as writers,not really,it depends on the way they represent their entries..

while reading,my mind wandered and felt nostalgic..remembering Osaka City,the subway I love the most,listening to people`s accent and watching their trend,lookin around the aged people,the homeless...that made me think of my "lost" father..(do you still remember the poem i`ve made for my father last year?)..and now,i remember my single parent,my mom...

gee...i love the poem..and i recited it silently,without any rush...

Nice post,Angelo!I love it!
Thanx for the poem..I think I`ve read it before,and its good to commemorate.

hugs to you and Nermal!


ghee said...

and hey,i forgot to say..,
what a good samaritan you are!!
keep it up!you will be blessed twice or even thrice for what you`ve done!

Gina said...

A little act of kindness makes a Big difference... If only everybody does an act of kindness to every fellow man, this would be a better world! Thanks Angelo, for doing your share.
Nice post (as always)!
Hey, have a good weekend!

Leah said...

So many interesting people indeed to observe in the subway. So you're diagnosis was pretty good, I would've probably been scared and might have taken off and waited for the next train. You're a good doctor in the making and a good soul.

Angelo de los Angeles said...

Tina: Ya, I know what you mean... take care of your mom and dad Tina, time goes by too quickly.

Andrew: PARE!! Sorry I've been out of the loop. I told Cwis and Nelson that we would all hang out, but I got busy again. My schedule is packed until Sept. I'm gonna touch base with you guys ASAP. Whoaw 3000 emails, marriage has kept you busy hehe! Say hi to the lovely ball and chain hehe!

Shoshana: It's either an unwritten rule, or maybe it's because the panganay is usually the most responsible one?? Don't forget to take care of yourself too :)

Ghee: Thanks Ghee! sorry if I made you feel sad.... I remember your poem and your story about you dad, that made me sad too... but you know these life experiences build a person's character, and from the words that flow from your heart into your poem, I can tell you are of excellent character.... oh and it wasn't much of a samaritan act, it was either I throw the old pass away or give it to someone who could still use it.... some people actually do that here, when they leave the subway and have a day pass that they won't need anymore, they'll pass it on to a new passenger coming in, on their way out.... Nermal says purrr purrr nudge nudge to Tita Ghee :)

Gina: It's funny, but I've had the privilege of observing many tiny acts of kindness in the big mean city of Toronto. I'm sure you would have done the same if you saw what I saw :) Take Care Gina!

Leah: Interesting indeed! Thanks so much Leah, I'm honoured and I hope I finish this process soon! Ingat always :)

sasha said...

You are such a sweet guy, Angelo! Giving that pass to the old man is a kind act.

We're both panganay pala. I worry about my dad din (mom's passed away already). I save money for him and would like to buy a farm somewhere where he can relax in his old age.

Have a great week ahead, Angelo! And to Nermal too :)

iskoo said...

alam mo pareho pala tayo, ganyang ganyan din ang naaalala ko para sa parents ko, kaya priority ko magawa muna bahay nila bago ang sa akin, tapos ibibili ko muna sila ng sasakyan bago ako magkaroon.

ang bait mo naman sa mga strangers, sa bagay ako din naman kapag merong nakikitang senior citizen na gusto ng pagkain di ako mag second thought na ibigay kahit yung mismong isusubo ko nalang.

keep up the good works angelo. btw doctor ka ba? hope you dont mind kung ganito tanong ko. base sa profile pic mo mukhang respetadong doctor ka.

Puss-in-Boots said...

What a lovely thing you did for that old man. The thing is, we're all going to get old and I hope that someone thinks of us in our dotage. Well, me anyway (I'm older than you!).

Have a wonderful week and hug Nermal for me.

haze said...

Nice geste Angelo! Not a lot of people will do the same as you did...not a lot people will pay attention...or even care to an old grey haired man! You have a clean heart and keep it up! You will be blessed million times for being a good samaritan ;)!

P.S. you are so courageous sleeping in the subway but stay vigilant too !

Andrea said...

I can relate to the conversations on the subway..and I try to remember if I was ever actually that mindless sounding myself

loved the little story of the old man, that's something I myself would also do. Very sweet indeed

MeL said...

Sorry for the super late comment. I feel sad while reading the subway part and the poem. Lumalambot ang puso ko whenever I see an old man lalo na yung mga nasa side streets lang. Mas lalo rin akong napaisip dun when you mentioned about your parents. I'm the youngest in our family. Di ko pa nakikita sa kuya ko (eldest) yung 'responsibility' na tinutukoy mo. Kaya nga in some ways, I do my part to take care of my parents well especially to my dad ('coz he's 73yrs old already). Ayan, I get emotional na.

Thanks for the wonderful post and the poem. May God bles you more for the kind act you did for that old man. :)