As a general rule of thumb, riding the train in
can often lead
to small disasters. Unlike the sky train, the train tends to be a lot less
reliable, if only because there is a better chance of trees landing on the
tracks. Trains break down, or, as on one particularly memorable morning, fail
to brake at all. It is unusual, however, for panic to break out on the train.
Unlike the busses and sky trains, which tend to be populated by students and
blue collar workers, the train tends to be filled with men and women in
business suits calmly drinking their five dollar lattes while reading the
Georgia Straight. The fact that they are often packed into the aisles and made
to sit on the stairs only means they are forced to keep their business like
demeanour in trying circumstances. Things like sudden stops to avoid people who
don’t understand not to park on the train tracks are really just another minor
inconvenience, as is spilling their five dollar latte all over their neighbour. Vancouver
Needless to say, it isn’t much of a way for a student to travel unless you feel like being looked down on by anybody you happen to sit beside. On the train I often noticed that the students ended up grouped together at the end of one car, where they could be loud or sleep with the comfort that those around them understood that being loud or sleeping were really the only ways to deal with not being able to afford a five dollar latte. It also helped to be around people sympathetic to the fact that you would really like to get some work done on the tiny table provided as opposed to using it for knitting.
But I digress. My girlfriend and I were on our way back from
after a busy day at work. Often, in
order to secure seats on the train, we sat in the aisle near the door, where we
were unlikely to get trodden on by people who suddenly felt the need to stumble
down the aisle towards the restroom. See, much like taking the bus, when the
first people get on the train they all sit one seat away from each other rather
then beside each other, because ewww cooties. So when a group of people gets
onto the train they are forced to either talk over someone who couldn’t be
bothered to sit beside the guy beside him or else stand around awkwardly while
there are several empty seats scattered haphazardly throughout the train. We
usually opted for stand around awkwardly, because there is nothing worse then
having businessmen look at you like dirt because you’re trying to have a
conversation through him while he reads the latest market trends on his ipad. Vancouver
Anyways, we’re sitting in the middle of the aisle when the conductor comes running past us. Now, since were sitting in the aisle this is a little awkward, and can probably be more accurately described as the conductor tripped over us while we hurried to get out of the way. Clearly something was going down somewhere on the train. The conductor straightened himself up and gave us a look and said “Well, where is it?”
I glanced at my girlfriend. “Where’s what?” I asked.
“The bat” the conductor answered. I glanced at my girlfriend again and shrugged. “I, uh, I haven’t seen a bat” I answered.
At that moment there was a loud shriek and all three of us looked across the car to see a bat fluttering down the aisle. Now I’ve seen birds trapped in rooms before and they tend to be pretty frantic. A bird in a room does little but take off, aim for windows and smash into walls. A small bird is a frightened creature in an enclosed space and its panic is usually only exemplified by the fact that it is quickly surrounded by several people either running and yelling or trying to catch it. Once you have a small bird in a room the best case is that it finds the open window it came in easily and that it doesn’t crap on anything valuable.
In contrast to a bird, this bat was doing a rather lazy flutter down the middle of the car, seemingly ignorant of the panic it was causing in its wake. People screamed, covered there heads, or, in extreme cases, tried to hit it with purses. This mostly succeeded in the hitting of other passengers and so the bat was leaving in its wake several angry people covered in makeup supplies, tissues, and feminine hygiene products. A rather large woman, wielding her purse much like I would imagine a Viking wields a great ax, brought her purse down on the bat, which lazily fluttered out of the way. The resulting smack, as she walloped the man beside her in the head, and the large puff of brown powder as her makeup bag exploded added a nice haze to the atmosphere out of which the bat continued unperturbed.
Now I can only assume that the advantage of echolocation over eyesight was that the bat did not consider the fact that it could see the outside world through the windows. It knew perfectly well that freedom did not lie through those deceptive glass panes and that all it could do was continue through the train. And being used to caves it probably did not find the train and its panicked occupants all that difficult to navigate. With its small stature and lazy flight it was easily fluttering down the car, seemingly oblivious to the chaos and exploded makeup it was leaving in its wake.