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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mouth 1, Brain 0

Several years ago I was invited to a wedding on the other side of the mountains from my home town. I was eager to go, however, I had far from what you’d call reliable transportation and at the time you had to be at least 25 years of age to rent a car. Another friend suggested that I take Amtrak. That sounded like a good idea to me; there used to be an Amtrak station right downtown and it wasn’t too much more than it would cost to rent a car. I remembered hearing how relaxing and enjoyable travel by train is so the more I thought about it, the more eager I became to buy my ticket. Being a college student, though, I didn’t have the funds to reserve my own cabin. Besides, it wasn’t going to be that long of a trip. So coach is where I ended up.

When the day of departure arrived, I heartily checked in and boarded the car, searching up the isle for my assigned seat. As I was sitting there waiting for the train to finish boarding and do whatever trains do during stops (I imagined the engineer up there topping off the tanks from the water tower flue), I started looking around the car. Across the isle, sitting in an opposite-facing seat a row or so away was a woman and her baby. And let me tell you, it was an ugly baby.

Now normally I’d hesitate before making a statement like that about someone else’s child, but hey, even if I don’t say it, it’s an ugly baby. Admit it, we’ve all seen a child from time to time that looks like the stork dropped it from the homely tree and it hit every branch on the way down.

Anyway, I sat there mesmerized by this child when from the corner of my eye I became vaguely aware of someone entering the car from the other end. And apparently this guy had been visiting the bar car because, well, he’d obviously had a few. The door slid shut and the man made his slow, unsteady way down the isle toward us, humming some illegible tune to himself. When he reached the middle of the car he caught a glimpse of the woman’s baby and stopped cold, just staring at the child the way someone does when he’s not sure if he just spotted Bigfoot.

The woman noticed him staring and, apparently not alien to people doing this, sneered “what are you looking at?”

I mistakenly thought she had caught me staring, so without thinking I replied “I’m looking at your ugly baby, lady. Man, that’s a baaaaad looking baby. You must save a fortune in day care cuz no one’s going to bother that kid.”

And, go figure, she got offended. She yelled for the conductor. When he arrived she was up in arms.

Conductor: “What’s going on?!”

Lady [pointing to me]: “This man just insulted me and I didn’t pay good money to ride this railroad and be insulted!”

Conductor: “I’m so sorry ma’am. I hope you understand that it’s always Amtrak’s goal to ensure every passenger’s experience is a happy one. Perhaps it would be more to your liking if we were to re-arrange your seating. Also, once the train is under way, I’d be happy to arrange for a free dinner in the dining car.”

Lady: “Fine.”

The conductor began helping her with her carry-on bags as she gathered up her ugly baby.

Conductor: “And if you give me a few minutes, I’m sure I can scrounge up a snack for your monkey.”

- The Number of People Stunned by My Mediocrity