“Attention, everybody,” the elderly Hispanic man announced to the rest of us riding the R train. “Jesus Christ is coming back! You must repent!”
This fellow, who was standing a few feet away from me one night last week, proceeded to helpfully repeat his message in Spanish.
The spiel was irritating in any language, since I was trying to read during my ride home and I don’t particularly enjoy being sermonized by a total stranger.
But given the way I was feeling at the moment, End Times couldn’t get here soon enough.
I’ve been sick for nearly four weeks now after coming down with a particularly nasty bout of chronic fatigue.
This has been a problem for me ever since I contracted mononucleosis back in the Eighties, though it hasn’t been this bad in a while. My stomach is queasy, my head feels like it's wrapped in a wad of gauze and just walking down to the corner is exhausting.
It is also killing me emotionally, since I can’t socialize, exercise, or do any of the other things I enjoy.
The situation makes me angry and depressed, especially when I see how other people abuse themselves--overeating, boozing, getting high or just sitting on their asses all day long--without so much as getting the sniffles. I'm trying to help myself here. What is the problem?
And, as if that weren’t enough, my right leg has started to ache something fierce, which probably means my back trouble has returned.
“Jesus Christ is coming,” the subway prophet repeated. “You must repent.”
“No, He isn’t,” a young straphanger snorted. “He isn’t coming.”
Oh, great. Now we’re going to have some sectarian violence for the evening commute. I sure hope Jesus packed his Metrocard.
Now the first man may have been crazy, but this second guy was just a dope. What’s the point of mocking an old man who was so clearly deranged? He’s certainly not going to lose his religion just because you give him some lip.
I was almost hoping that the Good Lord really would stage a comeback on this train just to smite this loser upside the head.
And what's really annoying is that I wasn’t even supposed to be on the goddamn subway in the first place.
I’ve been taking the express bus home every night lately because I feel like crap. It’s more expensive, but it’s quicker, much more comfortable, and almost entirely loon-free.
Next Stop, Lake of Fire
Maybe some people talk a little too loudly on their cellphones, but nobody ever tried holding a revival meeting in the aisle. And if anybody does, the rest of us will make him walk the plank.
On this particular night, though, I had stayed in Manhattan for a little while longer to get an acupuncture treatment.
This session helped a little bit, but it also meant that I’d be traveling right in the heart of rush hour when the express buses were packed to the gills. Refusing to pay all that money to stand up, I opted for the subway instead. And walked right into the middle of a holy war.
“Jesus isn’t coming,” the harassing heathen repeated. “He isn’t coming. What do you have to say about that?”
This was too much for a young African American man sitting next to me, who had a lot to say.
“You don’t have to say that,” he told the aggressive atheist.
“But he’s saying all this stuff--”
“--I understand that. Just let him talk.”
“It’s annoying!” said yet another commuter, apparently siding with the infidel.
This thing was turning into a rolling jihad. All we needed were a couple of rabbis and an Imam or two and we could reenact the Crusades.
Everyone calmed down after that and eventually we all went our separate ways. The MTA is planning to raise the transit fare and after this episode I guess they’ll be charging an entertainment fee.
I’m feeling a little better, but I’m a bit gun-shy since I had improved a few times over the last three weeks only to do the Sisyphean slide right back to sickness.
I’ve scheduled an appointment with a doctor who specializes in chronic fatigue cases, something I’ve been putting off for the longest time.
And now with the back misery returning, I’ll probably have to get more physical therapy, which means an even longer time away from the gym.
I’m trying to get a handle on my emotions, I really am, but it isn’t easy. I can barely sit down to type this post, the pain in my leg is so bad.
I know the “poor me” stuff doesn’t help and it only makes me feel guilty when I read about people who have much more serious problems. But I feel like I’m going through a serious run of bad luck right now.
Anytime you’re ready, Jesus…