Friday, April 10, 2009

Tales from the LA Subway – Martha the MPS and John the Sheriff

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So I’ve decided that the LA subway has a lot to offer in the way of blog posts, so each week I’ll recount stories of things I’ve seen, people I’ve talked to (yes talk to, I know, no one talks on the subway), etc.  This probably won’t interest most people but maybe some of you will find it entertaining.

Martha the MPS

I first noticed Martha / Edward a couple of weeks ago on the Red Line.  I’ve seen her quite a few times, usually on Wednesdays.  Martha has Multiple Personality Syndrome (MPS), now you understand the two names above.  I know this because this week I decided to turn off my iPod and actually talk to her – taboo on most subways, ok, taboo in almost all public settings.  She is in her 50’s and lives alone, is on disability and has to take public transportation to see her doctor every week (I’m thinking therapist but we haven’t gotten that far yet). 

I wouldn’t have known she was an MPS if ‘Edward’  hadn’t made an appearance this week while we were talking.  On occasion the subway gets stuck.  I’m not sure why this occurs but it happens to me about once a month.  The first time it happened I did freak out a little.  It sat for about 5 minutes then started back up again.  This Wednesday we got stuck and Martha, I think, slightly ‘freaked out’.  The change in Martha wasn’t really significant.  I didn’t notice any facial changes but I did notice a change in her voice, it had a more male tone.  When the subway started to move she seemed to come back.

When she came back she seemed shaken, that isn’t really the right word but I’m not sure how to describe it, out of sorts maybe?  I asked her if she was ok and that’s when she told me that she had MPS.  I thought that took a lot of courage and I thanked her for sharing that with me.  Her stop was next and she got off and waved goodbye to me.

I’ve never met anyone with MPS before so I’ve been spending some time researching the disorder online.  From what I’ve found people usually develop MPS due to a traumatic event in childhood that causes their psyche to ‘split’ – abuse, molestation, loss of a parent, etc.  This can create one or more personalities that protect the primary personality from what is happening to them.  I’m trying to find a good book on this, there seem to be hundreds out there.  If anyone knows of one please post it in the comments for me.

I don’t know what happened to Martha, it would have been rude to ask, but maybe if we continue to talk she’ll tell me. 

John the Sheriff

The LA subway system is clean, beautiful and well, fairly new.  I remember the first time I went into its depths.  I must have looked like a subway ‘newbie’ because every sheriff in the terminal found their way to me.  “Do you know where you’re going?”  “Do you know what train you need?”  “Are you married?”

I’m not a newbie anymore but one sheriff still watches my back – John.  John became a sheriff because his older brother was killed in a drive-by shooting in Echo Park when he was 8.  John grew up in one of many bad locations in the greater LA area.  He learned to sleep with gunshots being fired around him, never being allowed to go out at night and always conscious of his surroundings.

  When things are quiet John rides with me from one station to the next.  We haven’t spent much time talking about him but I know that he is married, no kids and loves being and LA sheriff.   I actually do feel safer knowing he’s around.

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