I didn’t mind that today’s train was almost empty. I insisted on seating myself right on my reserved seat, according to the exact number printed on my ticket. There was a man with a laptop seated on the bench across from me. He was ‘working on his laptop’, as people say.
Some minutes later he moved across and sat next to me. It was because of an elderly woman, wearing a wig, who boarded the train in the next station. She claimed that the seat he was on was hers. While moving next to me, the laptop-guy pulled out a ticket from his pocket and waved with it, demonstrating that he too had paid the extra for the reserved ticket, therefore he should not be suspected as an intruder to the reserved seats wagon. All that, the move to the new seat and showing his ticket, he did while his face was continuously stuck at the laptop screen. Nothing interrupted his computer business.
I gave him a restrained gesture of ‘OK, fine’, and decided to ignore the guy. Anyway, I was rather bored, as usual, so I focused my look on his screen. At first glance I reckoned he was insane.
The guy was in ‘My Computer’, and his ‘C’ drive icon was selected and marked. He activated the menu, and ordered to erase the whole ‘C’ drive.
His computer didn’t panic, and practically asked the man to repeat the instruction. Apparently, also the guy’s computer knew that the laptop man was crazy. Meanwhile, the vender with the drinks-and-snacks cart just passed near us, and I thought that better that this vendor had spilled some coffee on the laptop man’s computer, which would cause a considerable damage only, rather than have the disaster of everything stored on his C-drive gone. I personally have quite an experience with such tragedies. I saw it happening, especially when happened upon me, but also upon others, and I felt obliged to do something to prevent that.
But the laptop man insisted. He marked the ‘Erase All’ checkbox, and then marked the ‘Format after Erasing’ option, followed by checking the approval box, which now was almost yelling in red bold fonts: ‘I acknowledge and approve erasing all the contents residing on this drive, and I know that such action is irreversible’.
Kindly and very politely I coughed. I began shivering.
The laptop man looked at me for a split second, murmuring to himself something like “I’m going to teach this drive a lesson. I shall erase it completely, including from the recycle bin”, and went on staring at his screen. I turned my look away from him. I couldn’t take that. Even the elderly woman, that religious old lady who was wearing the wig, and who had definitely nothing to do with computers, felt that something serious was happening. She rolled her eyes up, preparing to introduce a low-key sigh.
However, something else did happen, quite unexpected, and it was the train conductor. The wagon door opened and the conductor approached us, asking to verify the tickets for his routine check. He was holding the ticket stamp with his right hand, just like holding a gun. The laptop man heard the conductor’s request, looked up, and mistakenly thought it was a real gun pointed at him. He became pale, and quite immediately lost his breath and fainted.
I tried to bring him back to life, and the first step was obvious. I pulled the red hammer they have mounted next to the window and broke the glass. However, the laptop man did not respond to the new air supply. I shook him, not more than permitted to an average policeman, yet he didn’t come back to us.
Eventually and luckily, the drinks-and-snacks vendor was the one who saved him. He poured the whole content of a Diet-Sprite can on the laptop man’s face, for free, and it worked. Right after two or three drops of liquid had hit the laptop man’s face, the man opened his eyes and began licking and drinking, taking a double advantage of the free and refreshing drink. He remained on the floor and it looked like he was recovering. But the drinks-and-snacks vendor continued pouring, and went on trying hard to direct the bubbling Sprite into the laptop man’s mouth with one hand, while standing in the speeding and shaking train and holding his cart with the other. The vendor was a real pro.
Me, at the meantime, I didn’t waste a second. Since I saw that the whole erasing thing was getting delayed, who knows for how long that laptop man would stay lying on the floor drinking all that spilled soda, I took responsibility. I pressed the final approval key on the laptop. Then I moved to the recycle bin and erased everything from there too. It seemed to me now that the laptop has finally fallen into deep sleep of bliss.
The laptop man stood up, after a minute or two, rubbed his eyes and looked at his computer, then suddenly turned to me, horrified, his eyes wide open: “You are sick. You erased all the stuff that I had”.
“But I though that that’s what you wanted. I did it for you”, I replied, then quickly added “you almost died, you know?”
“You did that for me?!” he cried, “I was just playing with my laptop a normal imaginary game”. He was now raising his voice to a yell “I push it almost to the very last possible point. That’s how I pass the train time, that day-after-day bloody routine. And now, you erased everything to a point of no return. You are completely crazy, mister”. He was crying, but he had no tears.
I looked at him with hatred and said in controlled anger: “You are only imagining. There’s nothing that I erased. You just didn’t have anything on your computer, that’s all. It was empty to begin with. Ask this woman right here, she won’t lie, she is religious”.
The woman looked at us with a little interest, however, she wouldn’t react. She only moved her lips in silence, as if she was in a middle of an afternoon pray. Perhaps her lips were smiling a bit, though I wasn’t sure.
At this point the train entered Carmel Beach station. I went off to the platform and stood there, until the train would leave. I was looking at the train window. I saw the reflection of Haifa’s sun, calmly approaching the sea horizon, painting a gentle line of waves shining in orange. The blue and golden colors were breathtaking, but the reflected sunset did not fully hide the shocked and speechless face of the laptop man, remained seated inside the reserved seats wagon. We shall probably not meet again, since he, together with his newly emptied drive, would continue on to either Eastern Haifa, or to Acko, or perhaps all the way up north to Nahariya.