I haven’t registered a formal blog complaint about personal hygiene in quite some time, perhaps not since my unfortunate series of gym horror stories in 2008 (read them here and here, if you dare). However, I come to you with a new dreadful story that will surely make most people squirm with uneasiness.
It all happened last night, just before midnight. I hadn’t had dinner yet, and so I plodded over to the nearby 24 hour Subway on Highland Avenue for some late night grub. Not the healthiest time of night to be noshing, but my alternative was thawing out a year-old chilaquiles from the freezer. Clearly, Subway won out.
Well, as I arrived in the dark parking lot, I noticed two gentlemen stepping into the quiet Subway shop. My heart sank. I could already tell they were homeless and drunk, and in case you haven’t been in Hollywood, drunk homeless people around these parts are kind of the worst. I know what you’re saying, “There’s B-Side in his ivory tower turning his nose up at two chaps who’ve had a hard run of luck.” Well, yes, FINE. I am. But that does not excuse the horror I was about to encounter.
Anyway, I stepped into the Subway shop, and thanks to the bright lights overhead, I was able to see the full extent of what I’d be dealing with for this culinary adventure. There were two strapping young men before me, clothes soiled from the streets and reeking of weed. If that were all I had to deal with, fine. Hardly even an issue. Unpleasant, yes. But noteworthy? No.
Nevertheless, these guys had gathered seven dollars to buy themselves a combo meal, and while one guy took care of the ordering, the other proceeded to ravish us with craziness. You see, the men were clearly high on something. My money was on meth, based on the jittery movements and exaggerated double-eye blink on display; however, crack was not out of the question. Heck, it could have been both. I don’t know. All I can say is that the dude who wasn’t ordering kept repeating the word “SEVEN!” over and over again, occasionally pausing to snort like a pig here and there before fully transitioning to an all-oink repertoire. This, of course, led to furtive glances between me and the two other customers who had arrived behind me, and we of course shuffled out of the way as the crazy oinking guy teetered his way by us to the soda fountain.
Up until this point, the experience had been uncomfortable and bizarre, but again, nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to cracked out Hollywood bums. I quickly placed my order (Subway Melt, honey-oat bread thank you very much), and while my sandwich heated up in the giant robot toaster, I checked out the crazy man over at the soda fountain. He had ceased oinking (for the most part — there were a few errant snorts here and there for old time’s sake) and was now chuckling to himself, his head hanging low over a little cup he had. Suddenly, like a man lost in the Sahara, he began babbling incoherently about water, often inserting maniacal laughter in between his phrases.
“Water! Water! Mwhahahaha! Water!” he said. It was really strange.
And then it happened. The guy pressed the button for water, and with his other hand, he ran his fingers under the resultant stream. He then proceeded to use the water to BATHE himself, splashing water all over his face and rubbing it over his eyes. He then lifted up his shirt and splashed water on his stomach, all the while spitting all over the soda fountain. Now, when I say spitting, I don’t mean he was hocking loogies. Instead, he was flapping his lips like a toddler making a helicopter noise. So rather, he was merely SPRAYING the soda fountain with his saliva while simultaneously using it as a one-stop bathing space. It was horrifying.
At this point, I fully understand that several readers might be feeling empathetic to these guys — victims of circumstance who have wound up on the street thanks to a debilitating addiction to drugs. Yeah, that’s fine. I GET IT. But to those same people, I implore you to please feel free to use this soda fountain because I sure as hell wasn’t about to.
Even worse was that no one working at the Subway — and there were four people behind the counter — seemed to realize what was going on. WELL. As soon as the guys left the shop, I put on my invisible ninny hat and told the guy at the register, “You need to wipe down your soda fountain.” He just looked at me blankly and said, “Uh, that’ll be $7.05.” I wasn’t sure he had understood me.
“The soda fountain. You need to wash it. That guy was just spitting on it and using it to bathe,” I said. Again, the employee looked at me as if I’d just conversed with him in Chinese. Thankfully, a manager came over. I reiterated my point to him, and he looked pissed. I couldn’t tell if he was angry that such a horrific scene had taken place or if perhaps this wasn’t the first time it had happened. I’m not sure. Either way, when they asked if I wanted to make my sandwich a combo, I haughtily replied, “No. I’m NOT taking a soda out of that.” I was really on a roll.
Nevertheless, as I left the shop, the manager already had a bottle of disinfectant out and was wiping the machine down. Clearly, one of the more charming late night Subway experiences of late…