A CTA Story: Geranium Poisoning

Riding the train in Chicago is never a dull moment.  A few months ago, I was riding the Blue line on my way home when a man came bursting in from the connected train car dressed in full Army regalia. Head to toe, the man was decked out in camouflage. He was in a hurry or at least it looked that way. “Everyone may I have your attention! I don’t mean to alarm you.” I don’t mean to alarm you? Are you kidding me? Holy shit I thought to myself. What the hell could this be? Is there a terrorist attack? Has an evil mastermind released a gas turning humans into mindless flesh eating zombies? Did Skynet finally succeed? Did the topper stop spinning yet?  I didn’t know what to think, but I was terrified. He held up a photo of a man and started to continue his speech. “Have you seen this boy, John Connor?” No, that’s not what he said, but it would have been funny. He actually said, “This man has recently returned from Iraq and is in critical condition with liver failure caused by geranium poisoning. We are taking donations so that we can save this young man’s life and get him a transplant.”

I immediately felt for the guy. I thought, geranium poisoning? That sounds awful. Poor guy. I reached into my pocket and gave him a $5 dollar bill. “Thanks solider” he said and then continued down the train informing people to “give back” and “pay back to your country.” I sat down and felt like a hero. I felt like I’d actually made a contribution to society. Big smile I looked around at those who didn’t donate and thought “damn degenerates.” In my head, I thought, geranium poisoning? I’ve never heard of that before. I think I’ll look it up. I hope this guy survives. One search on my phone and it was verified. I was an idiot. Geraniums are a common plant that can cause illness in animals should they eat it. It has no harmful effects to humans. I had just given this fake army guy $5 dollars for a nonsensical illness that only affects dogs and cats. Now it all made sense. Imagine that last 5 minutes in one of the  Saw films when you see a montage of all the previous scenes in the movie tying everything together. That’s what happened. I broke down everything the guy said now. Geraniums? That’s what he clearly said. Money for a liver transplant? What a fool I was. When I got home I looked around for my Mom to tell her the story. She was outside working in the backyard. Before I could get a word out, she says, “How do you like the geraniums?”

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