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Santa Barbara 2 011

“Mother f**kin’ mother f**ker. Are you sayin’ I’m condescending? Are you sayin’ that mother f**ker? Mother f**kin’ mother f**ker. Are you sayin’ I’m condescending? Are you sayin’ that mother f**ker?”

He parked his battered bike about 15 feet from us. Tony and I were sitting on a smooth, well worn bench outside of the Santa Barbara train station. The station is beautiful; newly refurbished. It has a quaint old California mission/Arts and Crafts Style feel to it.

“Mother f**kin’ mother f**ker. Are you sayin’ that mother f**ker?” He looked me in the eye and hobbled in my direction waving his arms.

The closer he came, the louder he yelled. He seemed completely focused on me as if he and I were the only two people in the station – as if I were the one accusing him of being “f**kin’ condescending.”

When he was inches away, I realized it was not me, but the metal structure I was leaning on that he was half lunging, half hobbling toward; a metal grate which housed a trash bin. He kicked the grate violently several times; screaming all the while. I avoided looking at him, fearing he would lift the metal container up and smash my head in with it.

“Mother f**kin’ mother f**ker  mother f**ker! I want some f**king food mother f**ker. I want some f**king food mother f**ker. I want some f**king food mother f**ker.”

I imagined myself lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood; Tony leaning over me professing his love, but also reminding me that it was my idea to take the train, and I was the one who insisted on being two hours early.

He was probably in his late twenties, but his missing teeth, leather skin, and gravelly voice made him look and sound like a haggard, crazed Popeye.

He slammed the grate shut and turned to walk away. MOTHER F**KER! MOTHER F**KER! MOTHER F**KER!

“I have some food,” I said.

He spun around and looked at me as I dug into my basket looking for the two bananas I had packed with the intention of following the advice my blogging friends gave me regarding eating while traveling. Naturally, the healthy snacks I brought went untouched for the duration of our trip in lieu of hamburgers, nachos, and fillet mignon with a burgundy peppercorn sauce (I gained five pounds).

“I don’t need any f**kin’ food!” he screamed at me, rebuking me as if I were being condescending.

He growled at me, almost daring me to speak. I was a little surprised by my own lack of intimidation and sense of calm.

I have seen this behavior many times before working with teenagers who conceal their hurt and fear by spewing hatred and using the f-word. Plus it helped that he was at least five feet away, so I was no longer fearing death by metal trash bin.

“I have bananas,” I said as I searched for them under a box of untouched 2-point Weight Watcher snacks. I held up two large yellow bananas.

“Bananas? I like bananas!” he responded happily.

“I hope they are okay,” I said apologetically as I handed him two slightly soft bananas.

“Thank you,” he replied in a very ordinary voice; the way one would respond after someone passed the mash potatoes across the dinner table.

“You’re welcome.”

He peeled one banana then hobbled back to his bike. He put the other banana and the peel in a bag hanging from the handle bars. Slowly, calmly he walked away, pushing his bike down the platform, eating the banana.

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I had not planned on sharing this slice of life at the train station as a post, but I was inspired to share it after I read Creating Reciprocity’s post Sex in the (Small) City . An excellent post illustrating how when we choose to make a simple change in how we perceive the world around us, specifically items in the news, in a positive way, we can inspire positive change.