5 December 2011


Today I took a subway across town, and it was full of germs. Microscopic organisms were everywhere, while stranger invaded my personal space. When I wasn’t getting run over by a dirty stroller, I was getting hit in the back by mindless teenagers strapped into their giant Jansport knapsacks.

I sat very still in my seat, my hands folded in my lap. Around me, people in shapeless black coats were coughing and sneezing, and I was planning my escape route so that I wouldn’t have to actually touch anything. Inside my bag were my trusty ‘YES to Blueberries' towelettes. ( Paraben free, and 99% natural!)

I never used to be afraid of germs. Raised in the 60’s, our playtime meant finding anything on the street that could be put in a bucket with a pile of earth so we could make castles. This could be worms, spare change, old nails, and candy wrappers, with which we could make a flag. Occasionally I’d even peel a piece of old gum of the road, and once I even popped it in my mouth.  When we were thirsty, we’d grab Pop Shoppe cola, and pass around the bottle.

My mother, who was a nurse, packed us full of fibre rich sugarless foods.  We got lots of sleep, plenty of exercise and lived a carefree life, unburdened by thoughts of germs, or washing our hands. Our immune systems were through the roof! But now that everybody bathes in Purell, immune systems are compromised, and the world is full of dangerous bacteria. 

I looked around. Across from me, on a three-seater, were two people. One was a lady in a parka with a baby,  both of whom were sniffling. (But bless her, she still managed red lipstick). Beside her was a very large Rastafarian with long dreadlocks who took up two seats, and was full of facial piercings. He was starting at nothing, and rocking slightly to invisible music. It looked like he had a metal bone through his nose.

The lady coughed. I glared at her. She had done nothing to cover her mouth and her germs were hovering only a few feet away. The big man glared at her too. He stopped rocking. After a moment everything went back to normal, and then she coughed again. One at a time he removed the earphones from his ears, and then he turned to her.  “Ma’am," he said, in deep baritone. All eyes swivelled his way. “Ma’am,” he repeated, “When you sneeze, it’s a good idea to sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Like this,” he demonstrated, fake-coughing into his leather arm.

She looked at him. “Okay,” she sniffled. “You’re right.” (Damn right, brother!) He nodded, and as he continued, his voice rolled through the train. “I know old habits die hard. But I’m a body piercer, and I’m a freak for hygiene.”

Then he slowly replaced his earphones, nodded, and went back to his music.  A quiet superhero covered in metal and leather, saving me and many others form certain disaster. In a perfect world he was on the way to meet my mother. Giant Pierced Rasta Man & Violet. Together they could make the world a safer place.


  1. So awesome! Wish my subway trains had that guy on it. L.M.

  2. Can you PLEASE write a book? Your writing is brilliant and your voice is very enjoyable. And I'm not blowing smoke. I'm serious.