Box-cutter guy has a bad day, takes it out on CTA seat

(As CTA Tattler takes a brief summer's respite, we'll publish "Tattler Tales" from the very early days of CTA Tattler. I started chronicling all things seen and heard on the CTA in June 2004.)

My wife (she has all the best train stories because she travels the CTA on “off-peak” hours) was on her way home from the movies. Actually, it was an aborted movie trip, because the print of “Titus Andronicus” had burned through.

It was about 2:30 p.m., and a short, 35-year-old white man with sandy buzz-cut hair got on the train at Wilson headed north. He sat across the aisle in a seat facing her. The train was packed with people.

The man, who appeared to be extremely drunk, took out a box cutter from his pants pocket and began to systematically cut the upholstery of the empty seat next to him. He was deliberate in his tic-tac-toe patterns. Very absorbed, and oblivious the throngs around. And as usual, people were ignoring him.

But not my wife.

She leaned across the aisle and asked: “Why are you doing that?”

He looked up, rather startled, and said: “Oh! I’m sorry ma’am. I’m just having a bad day. My son shot out a neighbor kid’s eye with a B-B gun yesterday, and we’re gonna lose our house insurance. We’re gonna kicked out of our house….

“And then, a few hours ago, I got hit by a bus.” Then she noticed his horrible black eye. He apologized again and said, “I’m really sorry ma’am, I just had to take it out on something.”

When the train pulled in to Thorndale, he lurched off the train, leaving his handiwork behind.

From: Box-cutter guy


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  • The usual reaction after “And then, a few hours ago, I got hit by a bus” is that his financial problem over the BB gun was solved. Defendant and Plaintiff in the same day.

    The other questions are whether the "tight weave" supposedly uncuttable seat cushion fabric was then around, and why there wasn't a TSA agent at the turnstile.

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