It was like being in a huge cage full of canaries. Little brightly-colored twittering ninnies flitting back and forth from one perch to another, deciding they don't like that perch and going back, never getting outside the cage they're in. (Note to Toyota Solara w/license "TOAGAWY": Just because you like to drive does not make you good at it. I like to sing, but that doesn't mean I'm prepared to do it in public. Please, give it up.) They posture at each other, come close to slamming into each other but barely miss, retreating to their original position and peeping loudly at the other twittering ninny.
It made me think of when I first moved here and lived near Mission Dolores in San Francisco. I worked in the financial district, so it was a straight streetcar ride from home to work. And every day, there was something new to see, and a new reason to feel that my soul was actively being saved by forces outside of me.
The Beatific Negawi tribe graced the streetcar often. The Negawi tribe consist of transvestites who are enamored of female dress but who don't necessarily feel moved to go to the extremes of shaving their facial hair or creating a feminine figure, which means that they are Not Even Getting Away With It. Nobody would mistake these men for anything but large, hairy men in dresses. They are proof that you dress to make yourself feel good, and fuck everybody else. They are closely related to the sisters of the Agawi tribe, who would be Almost Getting Away With It, provided that you don't look too closely. They prove that you don't need to look like a supermodel to be nicely turned out. A soft sweater and a flattering haircut, and you're well on your way. These people always gave me hope that no matter what message my couture was sending, someone would receive it favorably and I didn't have to worry about anybody else.
The other regular encounter on the public transit system are the Less Fortunate. They take many forms and every one of them reminds me that my life isn't so bad. One was a guy dressed in a tweed suit with a snappy bow tie. He seemed neat and tidy, but his face had an unnatural slack quality and his eyes were fixed straight ahead. He fiddled with his cuffs constantly, drawing my eye to the bandages swaddling his wrists. My life does not suck that much.
Another was a man on his way either to or from work. He stood over me moaning the sort of breathless, fevered moans that one associates with Pentecostal churches. "Oooooooohhhhh Lordy.....MMmmmmmmOOOooooooooooohhh God....." He was dressed in some sort of uniform and even though he was standing within six inches of me, he had no discernable odor. He was just... moved. And then, at a stop, he bolted from the streetcar and vomited spectacularly into a nearby planter. I felt doubly blessed at both not being him and his having moved in time. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but sometimes it's pretty obvious.
Sitting in one's car on the canary farm that is the freeway, one is insulated from these little miracles. One is insulated from one's fellow human beings who are all much more fucked up than you would ever imagine. There is a certain solace to be taken in that.