High Speed Line IRS Hater

I live in New Jersey, about twenty minutes East of center city Philadelphia. One of the most convenient ways to get into the city is to take a train known to locals as the High Speed Line. There are many advantages to this method of transport - you get to avoid traffic, toll booths, bridges, parking facilities - but if there is one disadvantage it would have to be the fact that the High Speed Line puts you in close contact with some absolute lunatics. And that’s bad.

It is for the above-stated reason that I rarely take the High Speed Line into Philadelphia, preferring instead to deal with the manageable and less-insane issues that come with driving in. However, a week after buying my first new car in eleven years, I had to head into the city for a work errand. Fearing the temptations a shiny new vehicle might present to vandals, car thieves and neglectful parking lot attendants, I opted to take my chances with the train.

My trip going in was uneventful, as I blended in with the typical weekday-morning business crowd. But my work duties ended early, and I found myself heading back to Jersey mid-afternoon. Apparently, where I live, the freaks do not come out at night, but rather at 3:30 p.m. Take note.

As the train neared my stop, I overheard the tail end of a conversation between a grandmotherly woman and a casually-dressed man who looked reasonably tame. He queried the woman about paying income tax. His tone was at first reasonable as she offered some common sense advice (“You got to give the government what they want!”), and his responses did not at first signal that anything was wrong. “Oh yeah. Right, right. Thanks, Ma’am!” He seemed sane. But, he was not. In fact, he was the opposite.

The train stopped at the High Speed Line station, and a small group of us departed. The grandmotherly woman and several other commuters headed to an exit on the left, while the scary guy behind with me toward an exit on the right. I really, really wish I had chosen that exit on the left.

“I.R.S.... hate that I.R.S.... gotta hate ‘em!... they make you... make you hate ‘em!... I hate those people. Hate that f’ing I.R.S.!... I hate those f’ers... wanna kill ‘em!” (and here’s where it gets interesting) “...wanna kill you... gonna kill you! Gonna f’ing kill you!

As scary guy walked, he slowly got closer to me. He also continued his conversation with the woman, who was already out of the station and on the other side of the parking lot at this point. His conversation with himself went like this:

“I.R.S.... hate that I.R.S.... gotta hate ‘em!” (almost a congenial tone at first) “... they make you...” make you hate ‘em!” (he was huffing now; the rage forming) “...I hate those people. Hate that f’ing I.R.S.!” (he was not considerate enough to use the apostrophe) “...I hate those f’ers... wanna kill ‘em!” (and here’s where it gets interesting) “...wanna kill you...gonna kill you! Gonna f’ing kill you!

Yes, somehow a switch occurred, and since I was the only one around, and scary guy was making tentative eye contact with me, I felt a bit uneasy.

At this point he was close enough that his down jacket was gently rubbing against my arm as we left the safety of the station and entered the now-desolate parking lot. The grandmotherly woman and all the others who’d been on our train (l like to think of it as “ours”) were nowhere in sight, and I was heading to my spot with a lunatic in tow, weaving in between the parked cars with just inches behind me.

I quickly formed a plan and acted. I turned to face him, and with a friendly, concerned cock of my head, said, “She went over there!” and pointed back to the top of the train platform.

Please understand - the platform was completely empty, as was the station. Another train wouldn’t come along for a good fifteen or twenty minutes - enough time for his wrath to ebb... probably. This is why my conscience allowed me to take such drastic measures.

“Who?!” scary guy asked, with genuine interest.

“Your friend! The lady – the I.R.S. lady!”

He looked up, squinting. “Oh... the lady! Gotta talk to her!”

Suddenly he was my automaton. Forgetting about me, he spun around and trudged off in the opposite direction.

“Oh.... gotta get her... gotta get that lady!”

Once he was a safe distance away, I jumped into my car and sped off. From the safety of my rearview mirror, I observed my new acquaintance slowly working his way back to the station, and promised myself to avoid the High Speed Line unless accompanied by a team of ninjas.