Free Birth Control on the Subway

Remember that made for TV movie, the Boy in the Plastic Bubble? If I could commute in such a contraption I would. Instead, I create my own protective bubble: listening to music and playing a game on my iPod or reading prevents me from inadvertently encouraging conversation. Talking on my commute makes my brain hurt.

Having spent most of my day watching the spinning blue circle on my computer go round and round, during my commute tonight, I transformed into “Captain Introvert” on the train platform and used the “you are invisible to me” cloak to pretend I didn’t notice “talkopotamus” next to me. Entering the train, I turned the opposite way and plopped into the last available seat. Crisis averted…until!

One stop later, the man sitting next to me got up to offer his seat to someone. He stood in front of the seat, blocking my view, and then two small children squeezed past him and climbed into the seat next to me.


I wanted to get up, but there was nowhere to go on the packed train and the man blocked my view of whoever accompanied the kids. I leaned over until I could see around the man. I caught the attention of a young woman clutching a large stuffed penguin and offered her my seat. She smiled and shrugged and said a little too brightly, “Oh no, that’s OK!”

So I would be sitting with Taylor and Tristan.

Like Bill Cosby’s comedy bit about the annoying 4-year old boy “Jeffrey,” I remember their names, because the woman they were with used them incessantly in a futile attempt to get them to behave.

Taylor and Tristan jostled for position in the seat they were supposed to share. While they encroached on my personal space, that wasn’t the worst thing. You see, children don’t respect the protective commuting bubble.

They peppered the air with very loud questions. Then they started directing their questions at me, interrogation style.

T&T: “Why did the train get broken? Why did the train get broken? Why did the train get broken?”

Their decibel level combined with their awkward grammar made me cringe. I had no idea what they were asking.

Then Taylor screamed: “Tristan bit me!” She turned on the annoying fake cry kids like to perform.

Woman: “Tristan, don’t bite.”

I shot a sidelong glance at Tristan. I wondered if he was up to date with his rabies shots.

Tentatively, I leaned over Tristan the biter and asked the woman again, “Are you sure you don’t want to sit down?” OMG, let’s please figure out how we can both climb over this man and trade positions. Of all the people on this train, I had to be the least well-equipped to interact with Tristan and Taylor.

Tristan: “What’s your name?”

Ugh. I didn’t answer. Just didn’t seem like a good idea to give Tristan my name. But they would not stop asking me questions. I started to feel the eyes of dozens of adults on me. They wanted Taylor and Tristan entertained. I pushed my headphones back so I could hear.

Taylor (pointing to my headphones): “Why do you have those music things?”

Me: “To drown out the sound of your piercing voice. Uh, because I like music.” Duh! Kids ask dumb questions.

Taylor reached her little germ-infested hand for my iPod, “What’s that game?”

Me: “Collapse.” How jerky will it look if I snatch my iPod away from her hand?

Then she pointed at the post-it note on the back of my iPod. “What’s that?”

Me: “My list of things to do tonight.” Get the hell out of this seat needs to be added. 

Taylor: “Oh yeah? What did you do today?”

Some of the other passengers snickered.

Me: “Not a whole lot, actually.” I started to feel self-conscious about how deep and flat my voice sounded. Aren’t you supposed to speak in a higher pitch and add fake excitement when speaking to children?

Then Tristan rejoined the conversation: “What’s your name?”

Feeling ever so slightly more comfortable, I answered this time: “Tracy.”

Tristan (smiling): “afdl5$%k!”

Woman: “Tristan! That’s not nice!”

Wait, what? I needn’t have worried about not understanding what he said, because the admonishment egged him on.

Tristan: “Yucky! That’s yucky! Yucky!”

What’s yucky? My name? Me? Being such an annoying kid? I started to fantasize about elbowing Tristan hard enough to show him who was boss.

Tristan edged a little closer. “I want to sit there. Can I sit there?”

Hell to the no. 

Me: “I think you’re good right there.”

Tristan: “No, I’m not good.”

This brought more snickering from the crowd. No disagreement from me, kid.

During a break in the action, I tried to go back to playing Collapse. That lasted about two seconds before their hands were all up in my iPod’s business. So I let them play Collapse. My iPod has some sanitizing wipes in its future. Both Taylor and Tristan were sniffling, so I’m certain to have small pox tomorrow.

After a few more minutes, their mother/nanny/zookeeper told them to get ready, they had just one more stop.

And finally I found my excited voice: “One more stop!”

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35 Responses to “Free Birth Control on the Subway”

  1. Kat
    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    You know how they say animals can smell fear? I think it’s the same for kids – they can sense a childfree/child-disinterested person and make a bee-line for them. I try to be nice, I try to tolerate them and I try not to let their incessant questions and invasion of my personal space annoy me but, you know what? It always does. Me and kids are not a good mix – my blood pressure goes up and one (or both!) of us invariably ends up on the verge of a tantrum. You did better than me, I would *never* let a child touch my ipod (or anything I own of more value than a plastic cup!). You were in a no-win situation – suffer having to entertain the kids for the remainder of your journey or look like a ‘terrible person’ in front of the rest of the passengers by telling them to take a hike. Personally I’m happy to go for the latter option. Whatever happened to teaching kids not to talk to strangers?!

    • logyexpress
      Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:55 am #

      Yep, totally think they sense fear. This is not a judgment of parenting today vs when I was young, it’s more of an observation about my temperament…but I was in awe of these kids. I wouldn’t have spoken to strangers at that age (don’t like to do that even now!) even if my life depended on it, let alone grabbed at their electronic equipment. I understand why parents stick their kids in front of the TV and video games. They were so much quieter once I let them play my game. Peace and quiet!

  2. Kelley
    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    That is so funny! I know all about being a zookeeper. I have 3 and 7 y/o sons. I think it is impressive that you let them play on your iPhone! That phone totally saves me over and over again. So glad you linked this up with us over at #findingthefunny!

    • logyexpress
      Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:57 am #

      Thanks, Kelley. I was so happy to find your blog and the #findingthefunny link-up. I was laughing at myself after the kids got off the train. I was so panicky, but it really wasn’t all that bad. And I don’t seem to have picked up their child cooties (knock on wood!). It’s a miracle.

  3. Jill W
    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    That was awesome. I mean, sorry for your discomfort, but that was hilarious. Hope the small pox is mild.

    • logyexpress
      Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:58 am #

      Thanks, Jill! I would’ve gotten out my iPad to start drafting the post in real time, but I didn’t want them touching it.

      So far so good on the small pox. Maybe this experience will boost my immunity!

  4. Katie
    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Love Kat’s comment about them sensing fear. I totally agree. I seem to attract kids like a magnet, and I have to be one of the most awkward kid-talkers ever. I never know what to say. With toddlers and babies it’s a little worse, because then you’re expected to coo and do that weird stuff, and I’m really bad at that.

    Glad to know I’m not alone in this awkwardness. This post had me rolling!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

      Thanks, Katie. I’m super awkward around kids, when they gravitate to me it isn’t pretty.

  5. Bernie
    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Their “zookeeper” That had me laughing out loud. Ugggg, I think I would have just moved. Bless your heart for letting them play with your ipod. That sounds like a long ride home. I think I would have lot a little of my mind with all that.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      Hey Bernie! I would love to have moved…it would have been technically possible, but hard enough that it would have been a statement!

  6. Susi
    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Oh my goodness! I absolutely hate when people start annoying me like that on buses/trains/whatever. When I go by bus or train I want to be in peace and relax.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

      Definitely…me too! In the AM, I’m not quite awake and in the PM, I’m exhausted from work and just want to chill out.

  7. kateshrewsday
    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    Sounds like Taylor and Tristran need a good healthy dose of military school. Great post.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

      I heard someone saying to the woman (who I’m almost convinced had to be a nanny) how well-behaved and patient the kids were. And I thought “?!?!?” But given my subway experience, they weren’t all that bad. It’s just that my patience and tolerance level are REALLY low. Something good to know about myself.

  8. Alison@Mama Wants This
    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    Is it wrong that I totally cackled at this?

    My tactic, if I don’t want to talk to strangers in public places (which is all the time), I pretend I don’t speak English. Being Chinese helps I suppose.

    But good on you to be such a good sport!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      Alison, no it’s not wrong to laugh! I’m sure my mother would think my predicament was hysterical. I could’ve tried French, but in this area you never know, Tristan and Taylor could have been multi-lingual.

  9. shelton keys dunning
    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    You are so the better person than I. I would have been booked for mass murder and the jury would have given me the chair. You are my hero.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      I didn’t really feel like I had a whole lot of options. I didn’t want to look like an ass. Well, more of an ass than usual…

  10. lori
    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    I was in line at the bank reading this and laughing out loud. “Zookeeper” – hilarious! New follower here :-)

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

      Thanks, Lori! I started telling myself, “at least you’ll get some blog material out of this.”

  11. Anna
    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Oh that’s awesome. Genius mom to not sit with them! :)

    Thanks for linking up to finding the funny!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

      Thanks, Anna! I think she needed a break. Probably well-deserved based on my experience!

  12. Servus Publicus
    Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    You, my dear, are officially a candidate for sainthood in the just now established Church of Apathy is Green. I’ve been known to stop mid-stream in whatever I’m doing and turn to the offending parent and ask if they wanted to handle it, or if they wanted me to do their job for them. Sometimes I get a look of exasperation, sometimes they actually do something, and every now and then I get threatened with a punch in the nose. Either way, it’s more interesting than dealing with the kids I figure. All things considered, it’s best for the universe if kids and I give each other a wide berth.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

      Yes, I think sainthood definitely should be in my future! You are ballsy, sir. I sometimes give a hard stare, but I wouldn’t dream of saying something. The parents usually look like they’re suffering enough as it is. And I’m the one who gets to go back to a quiet house while they have to live with that commotion.

      And noise-cancelling headphones help a lot.

    • Tabby
      Monday, February 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      I am like you. And I will tell the punch-threateners that that kid is not my problem, and therefore they need to get the brat before the brat gets slapped for being annoying. I am not obligated to deal with other people’s kids. EVER. 😀

      • logyexpress
        Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 8:01 am #

        See, but that involves talking to people…and the sound of even my own voice jars me during my commute!

  13. Rebecca Latson Photography
    Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    You brought that on yourself, you know. Those two little shits manipulated you into talking to them, and their mother was probably totally relieved someone else was watching after what *she* should have been watching after. Moms like that enjoy having strangers act as babysitters. I’m a grouchy bitch and would have told that kid about his piercing little voice, and there is no way in hell I would have ever let them touch my iPod. Sure it would have pissed the mom off – I wouldn’t have cared. I would then have placed the ear buds in my ears and not said one more word to them, no matter what. I’m pretty sure that lady would never sit her kids next to me ever again – particularly if I told the mom I was a pagan and her kids looked particularly tasty (my ex- always wanted to say that to kids, and now I find myself wanting to do the same thing in this bible belt state in which I live). Ok, enough rambling – I’m gonna go have a glass of wine.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

      You crack me up. And yeah, I know they won. I couldn’t help feeling watched, as if everyone on the train would think I was a giant douche if I didn’t humor the kids. Oh well, that which did not kill me…

      Oh, and they most definitely did NOT look tasty!

    • Misty
      Monday, December 2, 2013 at 12:27 am #

      Wow. Thank you for choosing not to have children. I can only imagine the bitter and unpleasant human beings they would grow up to be.

      logy, I applaud you for keeping your cool and not telling the “little shit” about his annoying voice. Kids will be kids, period. They are full of energy and don’t know that they’re annoying people. Plus, I think that most people aren’t automatically annoyed by children so the kids don’t assume that they’re bothering anyone. Now, the mother, she definitely should have controlled her children and told them to leave you alone. I have four children (or little shits, brats, whatever other horrible names people on here have called them) and I would never allow them to behave that way! I teach them not to talk to (or annoy) strangers.

  14. Annabelle
    Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Living in NYC has given me crazy skills at ignoring strangers on the subway. Sometimes you really, really need to!

    • logyexpress
      Friday, February 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      I find ignoring to be the best policy. There used to be an Asian guy who would go from train to train singing hymns in the morning…badly. So painful. No eye contact!

  15. Nicole
    Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I had the good fortune of meeting Ella while having lunch with my niece at Panera last week. Ella, approximately 2 years old, practically climbed into my lap. Literally. Had the seat been lower, she’d have done it. She said something to me that I didn’t understand because my urge was to shove this strange child off my lap, but my socialization skills (read: fear of litigation) reminded me to never touch someone else’s kid. All her mother did, while I sat with my hands up in the air and my eyes wide with fear, was say, “Ella.” Not, “Ella, get off the nice lady.” Not “Ella, leave the lady alone so she can have lunch with her adult niece and talk about adult things with adult words.” Not an old-school, sharp, through-the-teeth “ELLA” accompanied by an arm grab and physical removal.

    Eventually Ella lost interest in me, took a bite of her grilled cheese, and then climbed into the booth next to ours to coo, babble, and screech at the nice man with the newspaper.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Friday, July 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      Eek! Many kids seem to be in charge these days (back in my day…).

      It’s sort of like when we let our dog get away with something and then one of points out that he’s number 1 (the Dog Whisperer would totally disapprove). Yep, I just went there (comparing kids to dogs).

  16. IASoupMama
    Friday, July 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    I have kids and were they to attempt behavior like that, there would have been one seriously pissed mama on the train. I don’t want anyone I don’t know to talk to my kids and would never encourage or ignore their attempts to use a stranger’s iPod.

    And, in those rare instances when I’m traveling alone, I don’t want strange kids in my lap. I only get so many child-free hours a week and I’m not using them to watch your kid.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Friday, July 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      I think the adult with them must have been the nanny, who was only too happy to pawn them off on me. At least I hope she was the nanny.

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