My friend Hayo gets so tired, he’s always falling asleep everywhere. He swears it’s not narcolepsy or anything that serious, and I’m inclined to believe him. Mostly because I’ve only ever seen narcoleptics on TV, and so I’m guessing that my entire outlook on the narcoleptic community is nothing more than a mash-up of people dozing off face-first into their bowls of soup, just over-the-top depictions of people trying to go about their normal lives, playing horseshoes, carrying a giant tray of eggplant parmesan, hang-gliding, always falling asleep at that perfect moment of comic implausibility.
But he falls asleep on the train, always on the train. I’ve never had that problem. My body has a hard enough time letting its guard down to fall asleep when I’m alone in my bed at night. But on a crowded car? Full of strangers?
“Hayo, where are you? I thought we were supposed to hang out after work?” I used to leave voicemails on his phone after waiting for a half an hour or so by myself at the bar where we were supposed to meet up. “Rob, I’m so sorry,” he’d call me later in the evening. “You’ll never believe what happened.”
Maybe the first time I didn’t believe it. And then the third or the fourth or the fifth time, I totally didn’t believe it. I’d think, really? You’re going to pull the old sorry-I-didn’t-show-I-fell-asleep-on-the-train excuse six times in a row? No, and it got to the point where I wouldn’t bother making plans with Hayo, not unless I was with him the whole time.
“You want to grab a drink?” he’d ask me, and I’d have to follow him around the whole time, making sure to wake him up three or four stops before we got to wherever it was that we were going. I found that out through a little bit of trial and error, that while he’d fall asleep almost instantly, it took quite a bit of rousing not only to wake him up, but to keep him in a sustained state of not being asleep long enough for us to get off the train when we were supposed to.
And I don’t even know why I put up with it for as long as I did, maybe there was some part of me that believed his story. Either way, after watching him nod off right in front of me, after I got off the train those first two or three times, sure that he had to be faking it, unable to believe that a sane human being would willfully miss their stop several times in a row, I came to believe that there was something going on, that maybe he really was constantly falling asleep.
Now that I’m fleshing it out like this, I guess, yeah, I guess it does sound a little like narcolepsy. Again, I hope I’m not offending any narcoleptics. It’s like, I can imagine how annoying it must be to actually have a disease or a condition, and to have it completely misrepresented in popular culture. Like schizophrenia, right, I remember when I was a kid watching TV, schizophrenia was basically multiple personality disorder. Which isn’t the case, right?
Anyway, one time I decided that I wouldn’t wake Hayo up, but I’d stay on the train with him, and just kind of watch how things would normally progress if nobody were riding along with him. And it was just totally crazy. This guy, he was sitting there, his head bobbing up and down as the train rumbled along. There’s no way that that could have been comfortable. The whole whiplash thing should have been a natural wakeup. But stop after stop, the loudspeaker would announce the destination, there’d be that really loud, “ding-dong” as the doors closed, and Hayo was just totally out.
And after a while, after like two or three hours, the train started looping back again in the other direction. I waited for my stop and looked at Hayo before I made a break for it. Should I wake him up? I couldn’t. Nothing really made sense. And when he called me the next day, it was the same, “Hey man, sorry about yesterday, I must have fallen asleep on the train.” And I was just like, “Nah, it’s cool Hayo, you were probably just tired man. Don’t worry about it, all right? Just maybe, just be careful out there, all right man? Just maybe keep your wallet and cell phone in your back pocket from now on, cool?” And I had to stop answering his calls. I just couldn’t count on him, as a friend, for anything really. Because I’m serious, this guy went out, and he was just out.