Photo cred: @selvarajah
The Lionel Groulx metro is always a good scene for mean drunks or crazy homeless people raging about the government or the youth of today or separatism. I guess the metros must have been down before I got to LG today because there were crowds waiting to get on the subway. “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers was on repeat in my ear phones. I stood there lip syncing and tapping my foot pretending there was a drum there – like I was performing the song for an imaginary audience in the middle of the crowd. I turned to my left and spotted a classic Lionel Groulx drunk guy. All I could hear was the Lumineers but I knew he was a raging alcoholic. I could see his beer can and all the bystanders avoiding his gaze. I turned my volume a bit lower. I could see his angry eyes, rude hand gestures and desperate attempts to get someone to listen to him. I turned down the volume even more. Now I could hear him cussing – en Francais – and yell at someone for having big ears. I turned the volume up a bit assuming he was just a regular mean drunk guy. Then I noticed the “big ears” he was referring to was some guy’s headphones. I turned off my music.
This guy was yelling (in French) at people with earphones in or whose heads were buried in their cell phones. Roughly translated (excuse the language), he was telling the crowds…
“20 years ago, we didn’t have this sh!*. We looked at people! We got to know them! We actually CARED about others and didn’t live in our own personal space. You and your phone and your music! Living in a f!^@*#%g bubble. STEP INTO THE REAL WORLD! THERE ARE PEOPLE THERE! You’re useless! You live life like a f!^@*#%g horse with visors. HOW ABOUT YOU USE YOUR MOUTH?! SPEAK TO SOMEONE! LOOK AT SOMEONE IN THE EYES! GIVE SOMEONE YOUR TIME! YOUR F!^@*#%G PHONES DON’T HAVE EMOTIONS! THEY DON’T HAVE HEARTS OR CHARACTER! PEOPLE DO!”
As he was talking, I counted 73 people in front of me – 67 of which were on phones or ignoring the world with earphones in. The metro came. Crowds got on. I stayed. I approached the gentleman, pulled out my earphones and placed them in my bag. I told him for what it’s worth – I got the message. He smiled…
“Thank you 🙂 I don’t work for the government and I’m not crazy but I’m a human. And sometimes I think I’m the only one. Surrounded by a bunch of horses! I don’t talk to my son you know? Some years ago he sent my ex-wife a text message saying ‘I love you’ after we hadn’t seen or spoken to him in 4months. He was busy. He sent a text. What the f*@k is that?! I can’t see your eyes, feel your hug or sense your sincerity over a f!^@*#%g screen! How do I know if you mean that you love me? AND I’M THE CRAZY ONE?! Why can’t people take in the air? Talk to someone? Visit a friend? Visit your family? Hear someone’s story? I have taken public transportation my whole life. There’s music in life when you take out your f!^@*#%g earphones, you know?”
Another metro came.
“HEY LOOK! MORE HORSES! PLACE YOUR BETS!”
I got onto the metro, after almost having missed a pleasant conversation with a nice (albeit – drunk) man, because I was performing “Ho Hey” for no one instead of listening to what was happening around me. I sat down in a sea of screens and earphones and was noticed by no one. And after my big realization, I hypocritically placed one earphone in my ear… “I belong with you, you belong with me you’re my sweet heeaarrtt”… We listen to songs about love and interaction and romance and adventure but so rarely experience the real deal as we ignore the music in everyday life.
“Music is the sound track of life […] And this is another accident, I think to myself, that we have ears to hear, and that nature itself worked perfectly to calm the soul, and the wind from a tornado has the perfect pitch of fear, that the train rumble of death, and music, music, if it is an accident, may be one of the greatest miracles of them all, as beautiful as romance or colour or the power of water.” – Donald Miller, ‘Through Painted Deserts’