Middle Ground

I rode the train to work today in that awkward old seat between religion and violence.

Seated on my left were two polite, moon-faced Christian boys, dressed in the urban youth-group uniform of arctic camouflage shorts and wrinkly on-message shirts. One t-shirt said “Got Jesus?,” which always makes me picture a little bearded man on a crucifix stuck to an upper lip. Jesus mustache. Isn’t that cute? The other kid was wearing a shirt that said “iPray,” written in eBay font. I don’t understand the message here, unless it’s just meant to be eye-catching. In which case: Mission Accomplished. That eBay font makes everything fun.

Standing to my right was a police officer whose holstered service handgun was hovering a foot from my face. I stared at it for the entirety of my ten minute ride, because my daily routine never puts me in this kind of proximity to a deadly weapon. The only loaded objects held by these hands are a couple of machaca tacos from Tito’s Burritos on 3rd and Alder. Those tacos haven’t killed anyone but they do make me feel pretty sleepy after about 2pm.
I imagined a hundred scenarios involving that gun. It accidentally shooting me. Shooting a window in the train. It somehow shooting the cop’s foot. The cop shooting beer cans atop a rickety wooden fence in a golden field behind a farmhouse. I also imagined myself reaching for his gun, the chaos that would follow. It’s strange to stare down a terrible option and realize with crystal clarity that if you exercised it, your life would be made instantly poorer. I don’t have any compulsion to grab this gun, but I do have the compulsion to wallow in those dreadful imaginary consequences.

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