"mouth-breather": inspired by a true story
There must be something about me that makes people think that I know things. I have been living in New York for a year now. People here ask me for directions so often you would think that I am a native New Yorker.
Note to native New Yorkers: I am in no way claiming to be a New Yorker. I know how sensitive y’all are about this.
It baffles me every time there is a delay on the train. If you frequent the C train then delays occur almost daily. It isn’t the delays themselves that baffle me, but rather why my fellow commuters think I know any more than they do on how to translate the conductor’s muffled gibberish or why the train is now single tracking. Did you honestly take a look around the train car and say to yourself, “Yep, this woman wearing bright blue headphones and sleeping behind her oversized glasses obviously knows what is going on here. Let me wake her up from her slumber and talk to her. I needn’t dare to bother the gentleman next to me playing Candy Crush with the sound on lest I interrupt him from leveling up.”
Instead of chatting up Candy Crush you tap my shoulder and interrupt me from leveling up into stage two sleep. Then you ask me to repeat what the conductor said. Did you not catch my social cues exhibiting my extremely low interest in making small talk with you right now? Were the headphones and sunglasses not enough to communicate that I rather not be sitting on a now-delayed train so cramped that a woman’s crotch is mere inches from my work tote because she has nowhere else to stand? I keep my eyes closed to pretend that I am at home watching “House Hunters” on my couch instead of sitting next to you and across from the young woman who decided this was the ideal time to eat an egg sandwich.
I’m a nice person though. I do my best to answer your questions while exchanging a knowing glance with the older Caribbean woman standing in front of you. She is silently praying for you to get up at the next stop so she can take your seat. I nodded to her earlier and she gestured that she didn’t want me to give her my seat, but you, annoying mouth-breather who wakes up tired young black women from their post-work train naps are free to get up at any moment.
I will admit that my answers to your inquiries are a bit curt due to the aforementioned thing I said about not wanting to talk to you, or anyone else for that matter. I will also admit that I have trust issues. A young woman once complimented my watch on the F train which led to a conversation about living in the city which led to her trying to recruit me into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I bought my bright blue headphones shortly afterwards.
I can tell that you don’t care about my disinterest in talking to you because you seem to be in a talking mood. You ask me more questions.
“Are you coming from work?”
Sir, it’s 6:43pm on a Thursday. Yes, I am coming from work.
“What do you do for a living?”
I work in communications and obviously must be good at my job because here you are still communicating with me, mouth-breather.
The older Caribbean woman and I exchange eye-rolls and telepathically ask one another why you’re asking me so many questions.
I turn my head to look down at my phone and scroll through the same group of photos on Instagram I looked through when my phone had service back at the Fulton Street stop. All this to convey to you that I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.
The next thing you say reveals that you finally get the hint.
“People don’t talk to one another these days. Everyone is so into their phones.”
Ah, looks like we’re at my stop. Good-bye forever, mouth-breather.