ThursDATE: Aphasia

Place:  The L Train.

Time:  Afternoon

(What appears to be a Homeless Man is talking very animatedly to a creeped-out stranger.  He is speaking gibberish.  He looks terrified.)

Homeless Man:  Otamad Krik.  Ayulac!  Niwre! Enialb Sonaj!

(This goes on for a long time, the whole train ignores it.  Then suddenly:)

Him:  Yes brother!  Let it out!  Let her hear the pain!

(A couple of people titter)

Him:  He’s telling the WORLD!!!

(pause, nobody laughs)

Me:  I think we’re witnessing aphasia.

Him:  What??

Me:  When someone has a stroke they sometimes can’t speak right.  I just thought you should know what you’re ridiculing.

Him:  Oh are you a doctor?  Can you go and help him?

Me:  No.  I’m not a doctor, smart ass.

Her:  Don’t talk to him.  You don’t have to talk to him.

Me:  You should know what you’re making fun of, at least, right?  I think it’s aphasia.

Him:  I was just being positive!

Me:  You were ridiculing him.

Him:  Yeah.  Well.  Yeah.  I…

Her:  You don’t have to be such an asshole.  You don’t have to turn the whole train against my boyfriend.  The guy is (whispers) homeless.

Me:  And therefore less than human: I get it.   Sure.  He’s had a stroke or brain damage, but let’s consider your boyfriend’s feelings here! You’re right.  I’m an asshole.  In this whole situation, I’m the asshole.

Him:   Hey, if you’re such an altruist why don’t you go help him?  You have a chance to prove how good you are!!

Me:  Oh no.  You’ve got it wrong.  I’m not an altruist.  I just couldn’t process my shock and anger at your behavior without pointing out that the man is clearly brain damaged.  I’m just processing it.

Her:  Are you taking photographs?  DON’T TALK TO HIM.  (then, to me:) He was just having fun.  You made everyone on the train uncomfortable. 

Me:  Did I? Did I do that?  Was it me?

(The train stops.)

Me:  I believe this is your stop.

Conductor:  Bedford Avenue.

(They leave the train.)

(I try to gather the courage to photograph the Homeless Man, but I feel icky about that, so I don’t.)

(I get off two stops later and tell the station agent there’s a sick passenger on the train.)

2 thoughts on “ThursDATE: Aphasia

  1. Good post. Speaking up for something or someone is hard, especially so eloquently. 🙂

    The person could also have schizophrenia, and he could experiencing hallucination, hence gibberish. A lot of homeless have some kind of mental health disorders. Unfortunately, as society, we are not doing enough. *like most things in life.

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