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  1.  (10316.1)
    Memories are all that stand between us and Galvani’s frogs. Here is where we burn our anecdotes onto the face of the Interweb and persuade history we’re more than twitching amphibian meat machines.

    THE RULES:

    1. Recount a tale on the below topic. You have 300 words. Anything more than that will be flambéed with the righteous heat of Deletion. Repeat offenders will be banned.

    Linking to a longer version of the story, or posting subsequent chapters, or anything which indirectly pushes it past that 300 word limit, will be similarly nuked.

    2. Read – and comment on – the other entries, before you post your own. Partly that’s because you’ll look like a plum if your story is a rubbish shadow of someone else’s. Mostly it’s because you’re not an impolite shit, are you?

    [3. Additional emphasis: “Topic.” TOP-IC. That means your anecdote should revolve around a specific subject, yes? The one below, in fact. Not just any old tale you care to share. Deviation = maggoty pee-hole disaster.]

    THE LEGAL CRAP:

    By telling us your story, it’s in the public domain. Don’t get pissy about that.

    Right now you’re in a pub, surrounded by writers, artists and socialites. If you recount an interesting tale to entertain and endear yourself to your fellows, you do not get to bitch about it if a twisted version of the same tale shows up 30 years later on the other side of the planet. Stories are contagious. My advice? Be honest. Don’t make shit up. Don’t treat this like a fiction thread. It’s a chance to entertain and move us with your life experience. That’s plenty good enough.

    THE TOPIC:

    "Did someone mention public transport?"
    •  
      CommentAuthorPurple Wyrm
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011 edited
     (10316.2)
    Oh the tales I can tell of public transport!

    I use public transport a lot. I've never got a drivers licence and I've always lived within five minutes walk of a train station, so riding the buses, rails and occasional ferry is the way I get around. Over the years I've seen some seriously odd things, such as the following...

    * Two elderly gentlemen laying out newspaper on the carriage floor, pulling out wine glasses and cheerfully pouring themselves serve after serve of sherry, accompanying each round with elaborate toasts.
    * A bug eyed, silent man, walking grimly down the carriage handing out a minutely printed screed about how Rupert Murdoch has replaced everyone he knows with actors, and asking him to stop.
    * A man boarding the bus, weighed down with ferns, yelling that he wanted to go to "THE PUB!!" and then trying to hand out his greenery to all and sundry.
    * A passenger loudly telling a fellow passenger about his lengthy experiences with angels, who he could tell were angels because they had no knees (there was just empty space in the middle of their legs...).
    * A pale, cadaverous man clad completely in clothes knitted from purple wool trying to interest a bunch of schoolkids in the "truth" about MI5 and the secret of hanger 18.
    * A sour faced old man in a red tracksuit who I swear had to be Ambrose Bierce.
    * And my favourite? The man who gets on the train carrying a small sports bag. After looking around for rail guards he sets it on the ground, unzips it - and the head of a Jack Russell terrier pokes out and starts looking happily around.

    I've got a couple of more narrative stories, but I'll save them for later.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011 edited
     (10316.3)
    @Purple Wyrm

    * A bug eyed, silent man, walking grimly down the carriage handing out a minutely printed screed about how Rupert Murdoch has replaced everyone he knows with actors, and asking him to stop.

    My idea of hell right there.

    Ok, here goes...

    Few years ago I was coming back from SF on BART. Most of the time when I'm on BART I have a book and my iPod to dissuade people from talking to me and this time was no different and so I was a bit perturbed when someone in the seat ahead of mine tapped me on the shoulder. Who was it? My personal Writing Fairy Godfather.

    Allow me to explain.

    He was a young black man, heavily tattooed, and he began having the weirdest conversation at me (my input didn't really matter). He asked me my name and then proceeded to launch into a story about how he was a record producer/rap/electronic artist who liked making songs about money and sex (because those things make people happy and happy people buy more stuff according to his logic).

    He then asked if I was a writer, which creeped me out because I am. He said he knew because I had some heavy bags under my eyes but that I wasn't really pro because professional writers have three bags under their eyes and I only had two. The creeping out continued when he said, "But stories, man? Stories are sometimes like a cake that's baking. Now, some people want to look in the oven, right? Look in the oven, let the hot air out, and fuck up the cake. Sometimes you have to let a story cook until it's done, and if you don't then you don't get it."

    Looked me square in the eye and said, "You got to let that cake bake, man. You got to let that fucking cake bake."

    Which was very poignant, and creepy, because I was stuck in a pretty significant case of writer's block at the time.

    Strange who you meet on public transit.
  2.  (10316.4)
    As often as I rode the L in Chicago, most of my interesting public transportation stories are here in Houston.

    While riding the bus, a homeless-looking gentleman sat in the seat in front of me and smelled exactly like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and he smelled so delicious that I began to feel hungry.

    Then I realized I was on a bus sniffing a homeless person.

    Another time, I was coming home from work in my prison guard uniform, and some old black guy was getting on the bus, and some young white kid, looking like a meth head ran up and grabbed him. The bus driver lady froze, and the meth head was yelling about how the old man owed him two dollars. I asked the bus driver if she wanted me to intervene, and she said to kick them both off the bus; there is zero tolerance for fighting. I cocked an eyebrow and asked her if she really wanted me to kick the old man of the bus and she said yes. I shrugged, but it's not my bus so I started to get the old man off the bus. The meth head kid went to grab him, and the driver changed her mind, saying get him on here. So I grabbed his luggage, pulled him on the bus, and as the meth head went to step forward, I hit him once, really good, and as he fell back, I told the driver to gun it, and we left him in the dust.

    (Hey! I made it in under 300 words!)
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011
     (10316.5)
    For a few years in my late teens I became almost irresistable to weirdos wanting to shake my hand for five minutes while talking to me. One such occasion I was leaving the train station and a middle-aged man who probably had about three teeth with what looked like dried blood splattered pretty liberally on his dark blue jacket. He shook my hand and started talking, thought I should probably say more "mumbling very fast". By the end of it I had surmised that he had killed someone, the blood and him saying what I THINK sounded like "I killed" among the mumbles. And then he left and I never saw him again.
  3.  (10316.6)
    @oldhat - and thus a career photographing grizzly scenes was born. All in an effort to recapture the magic of that one special moment.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011
     (10316.7)
    Oh god, no. I've been in to gruesome murders since I was four. Mother insisted.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011 edited
     (10316.8)
    Yeah. Public transit. Rich grounds there.

    In the very early eighties, I used to take the 23 bus from Glen Cove to Roosevelt Field mall, and the 16 bus from there to Nassau Community College.

    One stop before the campus was the Tri-Workshop, a vocational training outfit. So, the bus there, and the busses feeding that line each morning, were full of folks on the left slope of the cognitive bell curve and/or the fringes of emotional health.

    It was instructive, in a totally non-ironic way. My fellow passengers included folks who were barely able to function in the world, but dutifully got on the bus each day for work and were damn cheerful. A frail young woman who exhibited stereotyped behavior, performing the same bus-riding rituals each day. A creepy, unshaven guy who was utterly fascinated with me, and did everything he could to sit next to me. When he could manage it, he always had the same question:

    "N-n-nice day isn't it?"

    I'd answer yes and that satisfied him. He had no follow-up.

    One fellow student was a beaten-down, perpetually bereft-looking, shaggy-headed guy who poured over a tiny bible each morning. One of the Tri-Workshop workers, a perpetually sour, sneering little prick. One day the latter decided to pick on the former, launching an inept tirade involving Hitler and not wanting to be preached at. It was horrifying to watch. The poor sad sack just sat there and took it, at the end meekly saying something to the effect of: What Happens, Will Happen.

    I'm grateful for my sanity every day. One fumbled chromosome duplication during my gestation and I'd still be on that bus, heading for the Tri-Workshop.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011 edited
     (10316.9)
    @Purple Wyrm: That Rupert Murdoch guy might have been on to something. It's a good thing you didn't really get to know him, or they might have replaced you, too.

    @RenThing: I think I know exactly what you mean - I have a There-and-Gone-Again-Muse story myself, though I'll tell it some other time. Still, things like that just seem to happen to writers, don't they? It's like a requirement.

    @governmentspy: It wouldn't be a govspy story if you didn't punch someone. I mean that in the kindest, most admiring way.

    @oldhat: Yeah... why DO they always want to shake your hand? The guys asking for money in Savannah did that too - I always assumed it was so they'd have one hand occupied so they could pick my pocket.

    @StefanJ: Jesus... you shouldn't be allowed to work at a place like that if you're so much of a dipshit.

    I'm on an Amtrak train, headed from Nowhere in Particular, Iowa, to Shit Damn It's Cold, Colorado, in the cracked-plastic seat, staring out the window at a whole lot of moonlit nothing, sharing the car with a fellow about my age. All of a sudden, these two guys storm into the car and head right for this kid. For no reason I can think of, I duck down in my seat, and go full fetal.

    One guy is big, muscled, shaved bald, not a nice-looking dude. The other looks like an old homeless guy. Over time, I learn that they're bitching out this poor bastard for quitting the Army. Now, great big scary dude, he sounds like he knows the kid, and I can see him being Army, but I still have no idea who the "bum" was. If he was Army, the last time he wore green would have been Vietnam. But he's going on about it, too, talking about the kid losing his honor and disappointing his folks and all this other bullshit. The kid is taking it alright, just nodding and letting them heap it on. The only part that I remember clearly is the "bum" saying "you got to wake up and be a man." Sergeant Payne follows that with "That's RIGHT. Be a man." Then, bum repeats that same thing, but with a different emphasis. "That's right. BE a man."

    This goes on for about twenty minutes, then finally they leave, thankfully the same way they came in, so they don't see me. About a minute after the door is closed, and I'm pretty sure they aren't coming back, I poke my head up. The kid sees me, smiles and says "Sorry about that." Then he leans on the window, and goes to sleep.

    I found another car to ride in, after that.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011
     (10316.10)
    Something to ponder, when you encounter a miserable asshole:
    I suppose some people are Born Assholes, just genetically or obstinately selfish, clueless, but I really think most irritating wince-inducing people one encounters, if you could watch a film of the highlights of their life, and their day, you’d be overwhelmed with sympathy, perhaps in tears with sorrow over what they’ve gone through, what they’ve lost, what they never found out, what was done to them...

    --John Shirley, blog post
    •  
      CommentAuthorGreasemonkey
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011 edited
     (10316.11)
    A few years back, I got to be pretty good mates with one of my workplace's delivery drivers, who turned out to be a pot grower with a fair-sized hydro operation in his garage. He used to complain about having to get rid of all the foliage after harvest; he couldn't compost it because the neighbours could smell it, same deal with trying to throw it in the green waste or garbage bins. I told him I'd be happy to take some off his hands, because after drying and pulverising in a coffee grinder, pot leaves make excellent green flour for psychedelic baked goods.

    About a week later, my buddy shows up on his delivery run, tells me to meet him out the back after work. Five minutes later, he hands me a whole bin-liner bag full of pot clippings.

    So there I am, riding home on the afternoon train with a backpack full of reeking contraband, and a fucking UNIFORMED COP walks into the carriage and sits down. I'm pissing my pants, imagining being up in front of the magistrate and trying to explain that five kilos of pot is in fact a personal amount (under Australian law, possession charges don't distinguish between pot leaf - which is almost valueless for street sale because it's harsh to smoke and has a fairly low THC content - and smokeable buds, so the reported street value of pot seizures is often pure inflated bullshit), and wondering how much time I'm going to be serving as a drug dealer. The cop starts sniffing and looking around, I'm trying to disappear down the crack between my seat and backrest, when he says to the bloke behind him, "Hey, you can't drink that in here!". Turns out he's been sitting in front of a smelly homeless guy who's been working his way through a bottle of spirits in a brown paper bag.

    The train stopped at a station and I made my escape. It was a six mile hike home from work, but from then on I always walked home when transporting questionable substances.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPurple Wyrm
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2011 edited
     (10316.12)
    @Alan Tyson That Rupert Murdoch guy might have been on to something. It's a good thing you didn't really get to know him, or they might have replaced you, too.

    For all I know they might have done so anyway. It would explain a lot.

    I actually typed out most of his complaint on my blog (I lost the tiny strip of paper it was printed on before I could finish it). I'd link it here but I don't know if that would violate the no links to longer versions rule. Lord and Master Si?
  4.  (10316.13)
    Yep.

    But if it's a fascinating Thing and you want to open it up for discussion, why not start a new thread about it?
  5.  (10316.14)
    @Alan only a very small fraction of my stories involve me punching someone... Right?
  6.  (10316.15)
    Yes, Mr. Spy. Anything you say.

    please don't hit me.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeNov 2nd 2011
     (10316.16)
    @govspy: Between you and oldhat, there is not a single human being currently alive who has gone unpunched.
  7.  (10316.17)
    @Horrible Warning Si - But if it's a fascinating Thing and you want to open it up for discussion, why not start a new thread about it?

    A good point sir
  8.  (10316.18)
    Let's turn the tables shall we... A story in which I'm the awful person on public transport:

    A friend’s band was launching their EP at a place that was only licensed for BYO. My girlfriend and I bought two 4-packs of pre-mixed tequila drinks and whilst I found the tequila delicious, my girlfriend wasn’t convinced. I couldn’t let them go to waste, so I proceeded to drink seven of the eight drinks in a period of about two hours.
    I was fine and having a great time right up until we hit the street. My first tequila-infused vomit was in the alleyway next to the venue, but I managed to keep it down for the couple of kilometre walk to the train station.
    We had about 20 minutes to kill before the train arrived (the last one for the night that would actually get us home), so I spent that time in the disabled toilet vomiting ceaselessly (I’m never one to use a disabled toilet in usual circumstances, but my girlfriend chucked me in there because it was closest to the platform).
    When the train arrives my long-suffering girlfriend manages to coax me out of the toilet and on to the train, after dragging me deliberately to the carriage with the bathroom.
    Just my luck – there were two train security guards standing right there. I had the plastic bag that the bottle-o had given us the drinks in, so I proceeded to vomit into it while the security guards kept watch – apparently they only care about violence and/or genuinely illegal acts because they left me to it.
    It was only then with a bag half-full of spew that I actually noticed the toilet in the carriage, locked myself inside, stuff the bag into the diaper disposal bin and spent the rest of the hour long trip hugging porcelain (well, more likely plastic).
  9.  (10316.19)
    Back in the very early '90s, I went with a couple of friends to see New Model Army. Being a prick, I drink two bottles of Thunderbird on the way. The car we're in, a horrible, ancient Vauxhall Chevette known as 'The Booga', breaks down on the way, and we're going to have to get the train home. I'm starting to panic about this, because I think we'll inevitably fuck this up, so I slip out during the support act to check the train times.

    Being somewhat impaired, I ask 'where's the train to Winchester' rather than 'what time's the last train to Winchester'. The station chap says 'it's that one mate...' So I get on it, totally forgetting about the gig. The train gets as far as Eastleigh and I have to change. This is when I realise I'm meant to be in Portsmouth. At that point I gave up on the gig and tried to concentrate on getting home. I don't know the town, and am bloody hungry, so I approach a woman with a small child and say 'Excuse me, is there anywhere to get food round here?' I think it probably comes out sounding like 'I'm going to kill and eat you', and with hindsight, a lurching goth monstrosity, all backcombed and in leather is probably a bit intimidating, but I'm incredibly hurt when she pulls the child behind her and says 'don't worry, the horrible man will go away soon'...

    I get on the next train and try to find a buffet by walking through. Until I come to a locked door, which is obviously (to a sober person) the front of the train. I'm shoving at the damn thing, and hear laughter - turning round, there's a whole bunch of rail staff in the carriage going 'stupid prick thinks he's the driver'. I get home eventually and tip a kettle of boiling water over my arm and spend the rest of the night on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas taped round it. Joy.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011 edited
     (10316.20)
    I really must learn how to remember details, because I *know* I have a fuckton of awesome stories about public transportation, but they do all inevitably involve being completely wasted and go something like, "I went to this party, then it all got to be a blur, but I got on the train somehow and got home again." :P

    If I could have someone *else* follow me around transcribing my activity, it would be a lot more entertaining.

    Looking forward to when those Microsoft LIfeCams really *are* recording everyone's activity 24/7, so there's nothing to do but just post the video.

    Good job to the rest of you, anyhow.