Friday, October 19, 2018

Just Another Weird Metro Story

So I'm waiting for the Metro this evening, which is still shiny and new and crawling with security.  I didn't realize just how much security our Metro has, until I went to São Paulo recently and rode on theirs, which is about fifty times larger.  I don't remember seeing a single security guy on any of the trains, and we took a lot of them.  I call the metro the "Xodó de Salvador," which is to mean it's favorite son, its prize jewel.  Should be, considering how long it took them to build the thing.

Anyhow, I'm sitting there, and this guy who is pretty obviously homeless comes and sits down next to me.   He had a big scraggly beard and one of his flip-flops was broken off mid-heel.  I see homeless people all the time, but I must confess I was surprised, because they rarely make it onto the Metro.  To be honest, this was the first one I'd seen, and I go out of my way to take the Metro.  For me it's like a moving island of first world opulence in the middle of the mess that is Salvador.  I go places just because the Metro can get me there.  Actually, I usually go to the same place, the shopping mall called Bela Vista, which for a long time was really the only place the Metro went.  Now you can take it all the way to the airport, it's pretty slick.

Dude sits down next to me and pulls out a cell phone.  So I think maybe I was wrong to assume he was homeless.  The train comes, we both get on. 

We've been riding for about five minutes when he leans over and asks me if I still work with spray paint.  Actually, he had to say it twice because I had my headphones on.  I was surprised on a number of levels - I also have a scraggly beard now so I'm less recognizable than I was.  At least I like to think so.  Blond dudes stand out like sore thumbs in this city.

I was also surprised because I had no idea where or when I'd met this guy.  I figured he'd must have been a customer, since I get a lot of them.  I asked him when the last time was that he was in the store, and he didn't know what I was talking about.  He starts telling me about this found object sculpture he had made and how great it would be if I would add something to it paint-wise.  He showed me a picture.  I tried to sound interested but non-committal as well.  He mentioned that he was indeed homeless, or at least partially so.

So finally I asked him where we had met before.  He told me that he was the ex-boyfriend of one of our Airbnb guests, and then I did remember him, although I would never have recognized him.  She was a total sweetheart from New York City, and he was the stereotypical psycho, abusive boyfriend.  I think he did enter the house at the beginning of her stay, but by the end he was banned from our property, spent hours lurking outside on the street.  He really was kind of nuts.  I could hear it in our ten minute conversation, talking bitterly about how he had wanted "just one slice of the pie," although he was also clearly a pretty smart dude.  She finally dumped him for another Brazilian guy living in New York.

About five years or so ago I ran into him another time, and this time I recognized him.  He wanted to know if I knew how to get in touch with his ex.  She was a friend of mine on Facebook at the time, but I said I had lost touch with her.  Now I actually have.

The train reached my stop and I got off.  I didn't ask his name but I did shake his hand, even though I didn't really want to.

And then I went into the shopping, which is another homeless-free-zone, with its own big security force designed to keep it that way.

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