The Battle of the Tube

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Rafique

Having gotten on the P4 bus around noon, already tired from the morning hustle and bustle, and with the upsetting expectation of being stuck in this damned rolling hell hole for another hour, I pushed my way through the other passengers to find one of the few privileged corners for those who travel standing up.

Stuck against the back of a seat and leaning against a tube, I found a relatively comfortable spot. It was far from the activity in the passageway and had a certain advantage in the struggle for a seat, if someone in front were to get off.

We were still cutting through the city when there came up beside me an older woman. The poor soul didn’t have anything to hold on to, so she put her wrist between me and the tube, the one that I had unconsciously grabbed onto in such a way that no one else could.

Without thinking twice I scooted my hand over on the tube so that she would have a plenty of room to hold on. But the lady — instead of being appreciative — braced her arm and sank her elbow right into my abdomen, as if to prevent me from snatching away her conquest.

I had no lack of desire to retaliate, because otherwise I’d have to stand there being uncomfortable for a good part of the ride, and on top of this she kept shooting me defiant looks. But to my relief she finally got off.

I then situated myself face to face with the tube but leaving a little space in case someone else wanted to hold on. I closed my eyes in the hope of dozing off so that the time would pass more quickly, but at that very moment I felt a lukewarm mass pressing against my side.

This time it was a large unfriendly looking man wearing religious bracelets. A wave of prejudice must have swelled up inside me because I grabbed the tube firmly and dug in by opening my legs widely so I couldn’t be moved.

Noticing my maneuver, the guy looked me up and down as if to say, “Who the hell is this clown?” As the bus continued to fill, his robust body pushed against me more and more, so much so that it was difficult for me to maintain my strategic position.

I had to push in the opposing direction using all my force, trying to counteract his weight; at one moment of relief I got to the point of taking off my watch in case things heated up between us. But they didn’t. The man soon got off, and we even exchanged cordial words concerning a little old lady who we both helped with her bags.

Finally! But before seeing him go out the door, there was already another shadow approaching, but too close for so much heat. I cut my eyes to see who the hell this was now! But to my complete surprise it was a sugar sweet “mango” [a woman].

She was wearing neither make-up nor perfume, exactly the way I like. My hormones must have started pumping instantly and efficiently because suddenly I turned into a gentleman and slid one of my hands over to make space to share the tube. She, however, preferred to move to a less crowded area of the P4.

The story continued repeating itself, and after a while I was too fed up with battling for the tube. I ceded my pseudo-privileged position and ending up bobbing and balancing my head along with the rest of the drowsy multitude.

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.