Large man on BART train. Not fat, large. Tall, wide, he sits in the double handicapped section and though someone could fit in next to him, no one would. On top of his own bulk he wears a thick cobalt blue pea coat, black pants, black socks, shiny black leather shoes. Knit cap. Glasses. Calm demeanor.
I notice he is also wearing light blue latex gloves. He has with him a dark blue milk crate settled on the ground, between his knees. The opening does not face up, but faces him. The crate isn’t empty, yet magically and mysteriously, none of the objects fall out of the opening in front.
The man pulls out a white carton of generic-brand orange juice, the kind with a plastic spout, green. He places the orange juice on top of the milk crate like it’s a table. Pulls out a white paper napkin. He wipes the mouth of the carton, definitively–once with the green spout cap on, one with it off. He then carefully wipes his own mouth. All this wiping takes time, he is doing it assiduously, patiently. The suspense is riveting. The man then, finally, picks up the carton and takes a couple of small, careful sips. He puts the cap back on the spout, and the carton back in the crate.
For a couple of stops, the man doesn’t do anything. Just sits. I can tell he’s not done. He then pulls out a string cheese stick and a small plastic bag of cashews. He pulls the plastic wrapper down the cheese stick like a banana peel so he can hold the stick by the plastic and not directly touch the cheese. He takes a couple of meditative bites. He eats his nuts, but I can’t remember how, I just know all of this is done with such care. The gloves stay on.
We are sitting perpendicularly, so I can pretend to be not watching, leaning back in my seat and facing forward, while I am, in truth, noting every thing he is doing. At some point, he must know I’m watching, because he glances as me and gives me a small smile. As I leave the train, he nods to me politely. I nod back.