Crazy People

There are certain trains, roads and places that always warrant the placement of the phrase “[The] fucking” in front of them. As in, “The fucking G train” or “fucking LaGuardia Airport” or “The fucking DMV.” I-95 is one of those entities. Today the fucking bus broke down on fucking I-95. After a tense half-hour waiting for a mechanic promised from a town an hour away, a half-hour in which it was revealed just how close any bus–and possibly our own society–is to total anarchy, another partly full bus came along and about half of our bus was allowed to transfer onto it. I was among the lucky dozens. I felt like I’d caught a lifeboat off the Titanic.

Following this harrowing ride, I boarded the subway with great relief. I was going to make it home in time to watch the HBO programming I had been looking forward to all week. I was happily reading my book when a strangely cheerful woman sat down next to me. She was carrying a box, the kind intended for photographs, with two frame-like windows in the lid to put pictures in. According to subway etiquette, I glanced at it, glowered and tensed all my muscles to make my body smaller in a complicated gesture of welcome and hostility.

“Would you believe this was the same person?”

This woman was talking to me. “What?”

“Would you believe that this”–she pointed to the picture on the left, of a woman on a beach in shorts–“was the same person as this”–the picture on the right, of a woman in a tan pantsuit wearing laminated credentials and talking into a microphone.

“I don’t know.” I replied, frantically trying to assess the situation. Was this lady crazy? Should I change cars? Could she be deflected? Should I listen to my yoga teacher and remember she might be Jesus? Or was it Buddha? She didn’t look crazy. Most of the crazies in New York are not wearing matching tan pantsuits. The pantsuit lady was definitely her. She was wearing the same pantsuit right now.

“They’re both me,” she said. She was smiling like she was on television.

“Okay,” I said. “That’s…people look different when they’re on vacation.”

“That’s not it,” she said. “I lost a lot of weight!” She smiled again and tucked her blown-straight hair behind one ear.

“Good for you,” I said. “That’s nice.”

The longer the conversation progressed, the more I felt obligated not to be nasty.

Two bonafide crazy people got on and started making a ruckus. “Escussse me, escusssse me” said one crazy person. “Wach’ out!” said the other. They were theatrically drunk, like the buffoons in a Shakespeare play. They found seats next to each other and semi-passed out with their faces on the same pole.

“Can I give you my card? So you can call me? To talk?”

Now I was sure she was crazy. “That’s okay,” I said.

“No, just take it. I’m not trying to sell you anything.”

Suddenly I realized, she was trying to sell me something.

I took the card. It said, “HERBALIFE Fulfills Your Dreams, Mariana Stantcheva, Supervisor.”

“They’re sending me to Las Vegas next week! I’m so excited.” She did a little dance, in her seat.

“That’s great.” I said.

“Will you give me your card?”


I’d had enough. This woman was definately not Jesus, or Buddha. I went back to reading my book. It’s a great book. It’s called Black Sun.

“What’s your book about?asked Mariana Stantcheva of Herbalife Fulfills Your Dreams.

“It’s about a guy who shot his married lover and then himself through the head.”

This shut Mariana Stantcheva up for the length of the L train’s tunnel under the East River.

One of the crazy drunk people sneezed. “God BLESS you,” shouted the other crazy drunk person. I read a paragraph. Mariana Stantcheva sat quietly next to me, rearranging something that said “HERBALIFE” in her fake photo subway ambush device/box.

“I just have one question,” she said.

“Yeah?” I had a feeling this wasn’t about pyramid-scheme nutrition supplements.

“Did she know he was gonna do it?”

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