Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Don't Mess With Cupcake

The IP address for this blog is "dontmesswithcupcake" and there is a reason for that. I'm a much calmer person these days, I try to step back, take deep breaths and put myself in the other person's shoes; also, the Prozac doesn't hurt. But sometimes Cupcake still encounters people that need a firm but loving lesson in basic human decency and when no one else steps up, Cupcake has been known to take these people to school. Friday night, I needed to bring the lesson.

What can you say about Amtrak? I actually don't mind Amtrak too much because I enjoy travelling by train and I just expect 20 minute delays wherever I am going. Friday night I had a problem getting the tickets issued that I had reserved using my Amtrak Guest Reward Miles. I ended up missing my train and had to take the last train out of Penn Station that night that made my stop in Rhode Island. So I was already a little het up when I got on the train, but once I got my seat I calmed down.

Trains leaving New York are always full and soon three young people got on my car and ended up sitting with me: a guy sat next to me, another guy sat across the aisle and a girl sat in the aisle seat behind him. They were all travelling together.

Now, here's a little game we can play at home. Everyone close your eyes and think of the most annoying group of people you can and yell it out ... now! Okay. Who said High School Drama Club Kids? Who said Harvard Students? Well, you're both right!!

The guy next to me was a recent Harvard Grad and the other two were students, but students of the Drama Club/ A Capella Group variety. Now, I love good college a capella music and I've done a lot of performing myself but somehow the combination of these two factors made these kids totally unbearable.

First of all, they talked for the duration of the entire trip. I got off the train after 3.5 hours and they had not shut up except for one 20 minute break when the guys went to the Snack Bar and the girl turned on her iPod. Second of all, they were talking extremely loudly, possibly because they had to yell across the aisles. I had some music on, until my batteries ran out, and I had to raise the volume so high to drown out their voices that the music was echoing in my head three days later. Thirdly, they were talking about exactly what you would expect Drama Club Harvard Grads/ Students with the emotional maturity of 14-year olds to talk about:

1. How initially not getting into Grad School destroyed their universe, but it's okay now because they make so much money

2. Online Purity Tests

3. Show Tunes

4. How Talented They Are

5. What they called, "BDSM", including descriptions involving the word "vagina" which should never, never be uttered on an Amtrak

6. Curse words in Hebrew

7. Their Live Journals

8. The Harvard Mathematics Faculty

9. How great their next concert was going to be

10. How this guy had called her the "Goldmine of Courrier House", ie: "Slut of Courrier House"

After the first stop, the guys moved directly behind me and the girl was still sitting across the aisle. There was no end in sight. First I tried the passive-aggresive approach. I went to the Ladies Room and when I returned I asked them what stop they were getting off at. "Boston." Of course. The end of the line. No help for me. Then I called Graff, himself a Harvard man, I thought he could give me some advice or manybe some magic words I could utter that would make them shut up. But unfortunately I only got his voice mail. I had a bag of Cheese Nips with me that I thought about trading, "How much silence will these Cheese Nips buy me?" but after the trip to the Snack Bar, I lost my leverage. Besides the girl didn't eat anything and what she did eat I had a feeling would soon be reappearing in the Amtrak Toilet.

What could I do? I wasn't sitting in the Quiet Car. Sure, these kids were violating polite society but they weren't breaking the law. I usually travel with ear plugs, but I had forgotten them this time, so I had basically resigned myself just to have a miserable train ride. I couldn't sleep, and I couldn't read. I was alternating between fuming and breathing deeply.

Shortly before my stop I went to the Ladies Room again and when I returned one of the culprits had taken my seat. "Sorry," he said, "I thought you got off."

"Don't worry about it, " I said and slid into another seat behind another young guy. This guy had clearly been bothered by the Veritas Posse as he had been turning around to give them Death Looks every 10 minutes for three hours. Seeing that this was not working, he resorted to drinking. This guy was not fussy and mixing his train booze like nobody's business. There were cans of Bud, bottles of Rolling Rock and little bottles of Absolut rolling around in his seat. From behind him, I started a conversation.

"So, how many drinks has it taken to survive this train ride with those three?"

"Not enough."

"Well, in a way it is refreshing to see that Harvard Students are the same the world over."

"Is their hygeine always that bad?"

"Oh, is that what that smell is?"

"Yeah, that's what's killing me."

"Oh, it's their assanine banter that is doing me in."

"If they don't shut up, I'm going to fucking kill them."

Time passes. I'm almost home. My friend in front of me mimes shooting himself in the head. He starts to make louder comments about how annoying the kids are. "You're going to get in trouble," I say. "I'm about to get off this train, you're going to say something and get in big trouble."

"I don't care." He is cute. And drunk.

"Well, if I'd have known you had my back, I would have pitched a hissy fit about two hours ago."

"I got your back, say something now. Do it!"

So, grabbing my luggage, I turned to face the posse. "Look," I said. "I'm about to get off the train, but do you mind if I give you some free advice? You're Harvard kids and that means that wherever you go in the world, some people are going to hate you automatically for no reason, and that's not fair. But when you open your mouths and can't shut up about your IMs, and your Purity Tests and your Grades and your A Capella Groups, all you're doing is giving them more ammunition. Please, try to be more considerate of other people." And with that, I walked to the back of the car and got off the train.

I didn't get to see the expression on young, cute guy's face. As for the faces of the Veritas Posse, they just stared at me, the girl had her eyes frozen in a half roll. And I don't know if my advice helped any for the rest of the trip, there was still another hour to go until the train rolled into Boston.

My Dad was waiting for me on the platform. "How was your trip, Sweetie?"

"Okay," I said, "But I had to tell some kids off at the end."

"Of course you did," he sighed. No one really appreciates my self-restraint.


Simone said...

OMG!! I LOVE THIS POST!! All I can say is I took the train from Philly this morning and seriously was going to shoot the lady in front of me on her cell phone!! I mean NON STOP on her cell phone...bitching. For the love of God it's 6:30 AM!!! SLEEP!!! Who calls someone at 6:30AM!??!?! Annoying bitchy Amtrak lady..that's who.

Vanessa said...

Good for you, and you put it so eloquently, too!

angela said...

That is awesome that you said that.
If I had been on the train, I would have been behind you and said "you just got served."