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domingo, 6 de novembro de 2011

Two illiterates, the subway and an old woman

I was in the subway in São Paulo, wearing earbuds and wearing that face of mine which makes people that I never met before out of the blue talk to me about their life stories, when a man with “thirty and something” years old asked me if the next station was the one called “Sé”, because he could not understand what the announcer of the subway had just said.

I found it a little weird, but assuming that he could be from another city and that could be one of the first times he was in a subway, I explained that at the wall of every station he could check the name of the station and above the door he could see the line map with the names of every station, then he could know where he was and how far he was from “Sé”.

He looked to me kind ashamed and said “it happens that I don’t know how to read...”.

I felt myself a little stupid, then half stupid, then completely stupid when I saw how embarrassed he was. He then said “yeah, I fell ashamed to say such a thing, but I don’t know how to read, what can I do?...” to what I answered with a “relax, it’s all right”, making the face of the image bellow, as I normally do when someone tells me something and I see that the person is ashamed.
I ended up talking to the guy. He was with his brother, who was I little younger than he was and could not read either. They were from the countryside of another state and had just arrived at Tiête bus station, where they got in the subway and were now going to met a cousin at the “Sé” station. They were in São Paulo to work, the cousin had got them a job and they always wanted to see São Paulo.

I asked if it was like he had imaged and he said he imaged it would have less people, less cars, less noise and would be much smaller.

The entire conversation happened for maybe 5 minutes and then he and his brother got out very grateful, but still a little ashamed. I noticed and old woman staring at me, making a face of ass, like disapproving my existence, as if she was bothered somehow because I helped the guy and his brother, kind bothered because I was there normal and had not exploded in small pieces. I bet that if she had the power to shoot lasers with her eyes, she had shot me.

I think it is a funking disappointment to see old people being stupid. I mean, if you lived more time, you should be more wise and not more stupid, right? But in reality everybody knows that be or not to be stupid is not related to age at all. Anyway, I was really thinking about how weird it would be to walk around the world not knowing how to read.

I was also wondering how the life of that guy and his brother was, since reading was not so necessary, or why they never learned or wanted to learn how to read.

Sometimes is very weird to think that there are a great number of types of lives and realities, all much different from ours, without things that we consider their existence as obvious.

We forget that If I say something like “Mug”, to you it may mean that thing you can put some liquid in to drink, to other person it can be a thing to put pencils inside, to another one it may remind him from “Mr Mug”, a neighbor he had, or someone could have had a dog called “muggy”, or there can be someone who will remember that the scar in his arm came from one time when he dropped a mug and got cut with the shards and therefore has a serious trauma with mugs.

Imagine that it works the same way to every word. Imagine that it works not only to words, but to feelings, dates, places, events, habits, social rituals.

People are complex.

When I got to my station, before I get out, I looked to that old woman of the face of ass, and wished her a good day, hoping that this way I could end our little interaction on this planet in a more friendly way. Why not?

The old woman, right away, with her eyes, said to me “fuck you”.