I’ve had my fair share of people talk to me on public transit. As a fact gatherer and a storyteller, I care more about hearing the lives of other people, about letting stories themselves unfold from random conversations. And as a girl, I’ve also had my fair share of such people possibly hitting on me, so I try to be brief about the details, generally honest, and generally only pretend to be engaged if the story might save me (that juvi-ex-con story is for another day).
Yesterday I was heading home late from work and waiting for the train. I was listening to my music – a little Mana to haunt me since I wasn’t able to see them when they rolled into the town the last few days.
I reluctantly paused my music when a man next to me started making small talk – let’s just call him GED teacher…if that’s what he really is.
He worked for a federal GED program teaching high school drop-outs, so we talked about education and I asked if he had heard about the LAUSD/10% homework news. We talked about how students really need to do work outside of class and make education a priority. He mentioned that he had his doctorate in education and how he told this story to his students to hopefully motivate them because he actually came to this country as an illegal immigrant. He mentioned that he and his wife – they had since divorced – had made education a priority over kids so that they could both work on their education.
I suppose he didn’t think that I would notice that sometime in our conversation, he tried to switch his gold band wedding ring from his left hand to his right hand’s pinky – even though he did this in front of my face as we were talking.
It was one of those conversation that had to continue on since we were on the same train, else I would’ve been rude. So we continued talking about education and I just asked him about the different types of students he had. I left the train and wished him luck with his students.
I turned my iPod back on with Mana continuing to play as if I had never left the comfort of my musical world….
…except GED teacher had gotten off the train to ask me for my number.
Me: I’m sorry. I don’t give my number out.
GED Teacher: (flustered) I’m actually a happily married man…
As he says this, he tries to do another wedding ring switch or show me his wedding ring…
GED Teacher: …and am just looking for contacts of people in education…
Me: Oh, I don’t work in education.
And I left – I left feeling really sad for the world and sad for singular stories. There was the singular story of the woman not in the conversation, the one he’s “happily” married to and probably doesn’t know that he does this wedding band switch-a-roo. The story of a man who may or may not even be a GED teacher, who feels that not only can he say he is divorced, but also blatantly try to both create this lie and untangle himself from the lie in front of my face. At no time did I give any impression that I might be interested in this man, let alone for him to get himself into a crazy lie in a 10-15 minute conversation where I kept my arms crossed and myself distant.
I don’t fault people for taking chances. I don’t think people take enough chances in this world. But to do so at the expense of your own integrity, at the expense of a marriage – a lifelong commitment – that you can claim is happy after you try and pretend it doesn’t exist? That just makes me sad.