New Neurosis: Pretty Much Everything Can Kill You and Accidents Happen

When I lived in San Francisco before the move back to Seattle (before moving back to San Francisco) I didn’t worry about earth quakes. I counted them. I counted how many I had experienced while living in The Bay. I think it was 6. I grew up with earthquakes so the only thing that scared me was watching the “what if the big one hits us and we all drown or burn or our food and water supply gets cut off” TV show.

But after being here for 3 years and seeing my time in SF coming to a close, I immediately started to worry that I wouldn’t get out alive. Naturally. I felt like I had survived without having The Big One hit and now that I had a countdown for when I would leave it was as if I was in a race, The Big One nipping at my heels. This is irrational thought. I know this and yet it makes 0 difference. Nada.

When I came back my fear of The Big One escalated to anxiety attacks while crossing any bridge. At that time I needed to cross 2 of them every time I went to work and every time I came home. Eventually I became numb to this, until we were moving out of the city and to San Mateo. I felt again like I was escaping by the hair on my chinny chin chin. My mom also felt this way – she had had dreams she said – it’s not surprising my neurosis runs in the family.

So now I take the train every morning to work. At first I loved this. And I still do like it a lot. I read (a book a week), I people watch, I give no thought to where I’m going or when I’ll get there. I just do.

But then the other day, as I was hopping across the tracks to the correct side, I noticed how the grooves in the ground where the walking path is are very very verrrry shallow. And this got my brain -a-churnin’. I rationalized my anxiety about those tiny grooves by looking at the rest of the track and thinking, “but those tracks are like… a foot deep… and trains are heavy! They are well anchored down. Well anchored.” But the damage had been done. Soon I imagined every fictional train pile up I had ever seen on any movie or TV show. Soon I was stopping mid-page, my eyes the size of saucers with every lurch or weird noise. I’ve even texted Kamel:

Me: I hear a horrible noise coming from the part where the train connects
Kamel: It’s probably just because the train is a little wet from the rain
Kamel: It’s normal
Me: I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.
Me: God I feel like Elf when he discovers the radiator

I generally shake off the start of any panic and adrenaline I feel and shove my face in a book. I judge everyone else’s non-stressed demeanor and feel like …. ok, yeah, obviously nothing to worry about. But then! On Friday! I saw the truth of the rail system… the wheels don’t actually latch down deep onto the rail! It’s practically a floating greased up tire without any rubber, sitting on a very very very tiny metal beam. Any little thing could just knock it over! Sure, it’s heavy so it’s pretty secure in the up and down direction, but say it gets a little too much momentum going around a curve? Or a strong wind? Or a cow runs into it? Basically, long story short, we’re dead.

And did you know that in order to escape out of a train you actually have to pull the sealant from around the BIG heavy window and then hope the big heavy window doesn’t fall on you while you’re untwining the big string of window sealant? I mean, who has time for that kind patience and tricky maneuvers that probably take group participation? I would be dead, so it would be someone else’s job. But these are the things I’ve been thinking about.

1) We are all doomed to die in a fiery fiery public transit accident. (Meaning me, most definitely me.)

2) Those who don’t die from impact probably won’t be able to get out. (Also me.)

I may be a total loon, but at least I come clean. Also, in the vein of total honesty and openness… yesterday as I was standing on the bus, doing my best to hold on, the bus driver jerked forward and I totally fell back and had to grab on to some poor lady’s butt cheek to steady myself, all while I was talking to a new co-worker… the judgement and the horror to be associated with me painted all over her face.

I was totally that guy.

10 thoughts on “New Neurosis: Pretty Much Everything Can Kill You and Accidents Happen”

  1. I generally think I’m a little less crazy than you but I know exactly what you mean about the bridges (probably to a lesser extent). I grew up with hurricanes and they were no big deal. You had plenty of warning and they were just big storms that sometimes knocked out the power. Earthquakes are a totally different beast, partly because they sneak up on you and partly because I’ve never really experienced one. I did wake up at four in the morning for that one earthquake back in Chambana that was the talk of the town for the next week but it was just a baby; half the town slept right through it including my parents who were visiting and thought I was crazy when I told them the next morning. Anyway, earthquakes are scary especially when I hear all the news reports about how every raised structure in Seattle is going to crumble and the ground is going to liquefy and wash into the Sound. Once again, a huge thanks to the mass media.

  2. oh my goodness. you kill me! every. time. hahahahaaa. I loved the end where you had to grab onto the lady’s butt cheek to keep from falling on the bus. that was totally me when i used to take public transit. now i never leave the house and my butt is flabby because of it. sorry. got off topic there. :-\

    1. I think if everyone takes away “Butt cheek” from this post, my day will be a success. 😉 hahaha. Butts are probably in my top 5 funniest things in the world.

      also – at home lunges and squats. 15 min and it will CHANGE YOUR BUTT LIFE. (but really, you’re sexy. So… whatevs.)

  3. WELCOME TO MY LIFE ON BART- seriously- I grew up in the Bay Area, have taken BART thousand times, driven over countless bridges (mostly the Bay Bridge) and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I have the same thoughts, the same fears. BUT…

    I always end up thinking… “well… there’s nothing I can do about it now, so… just keep going?!?!?”

    1. Ooookay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. First of all, I’m way more mystical and much less dramatic. Second, this only happened once and I’m pretty sure it was while we were taking off. I just figured I should let you know what had been foretold to me, is all.

      1. haha omg I can see this in myself. I had a bad flying experience once and even though I’m generally okay about the whole thing now, whenever I fly if I have any sort of vision, dream or otherwise before the flight, I am all doom and gloom and need to share it with whoever I’m with.

        Also – I appreciate the butt cheek line. It’s not often that once cheek is singled out, but it would be hard to grab both cheeks, wouldn’t it? haha I love it.

  4. The words “butt cheek” make me laugh regardless of context.

    And since you were so honest, I’ve decided to let this story out:

    A whale watching tour on a boat in Boston started off wonderfully, but the weather quickly turned bad and, despite never getting motion sickness, I felt horrible. I was headed inside, where families sit at lunchroom-style tables, to the bathroom but the boat hit some rough waves. I knew if I let the waves knock me off my feet, I would vomit all over myself and be humiliated for the rest of the trip. Just as I was about to fall down to my knees, I grabbed for the nearest thing to push myself into the bathroom.

    It was a little kid’s head.

    I grabbed a little kid’s head and pushed it into the table so I could launch myself into the bathroom and become violently ill.

    I still laugh every time I think of it. I’m sure I traumatized that poor soul.

    1. OMG OMG OMG that is AMAZING. And also made me laugh outloud in a quiet office hahahahhahahahahahahhaa oh that’s so awkward and horrible and FABULOUS.

  5. I panic on the train at least once a month, (totally normal, right?) and I tell myself it’s GOT to be safer than both a) driving and b) flying? So yeah, I’m an absolute joy in cars and planes.

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