The straphanger killed by an exterminator gone mad was a mentally ill germophobe who used his bag to keep people at a safe distance, friends said Sunday.A passenger pulled the emergency brake, which meant that the train stopped between stations, with 20 or 30 people trapped with the killer and the dead/dying man. When the train reached the station, the horrible confinement continued, as the doors were kept shut until the police got the killer.
"He didn't like people to sit next to him," said Phenix Hall, a volunteer who befriended Dwight Johnson at a Manhattan soup kitchen years ago. "Dwight was famous for placing his bag on the seat beside him."
The 36-year-old drifter was knifed in the neck early Saturday after arguing with bug man Gerardo Sanchez, 37, who wanted to sit next to Johnson on the half-empty D train....
The Daily News has a poll: "Do you believe the authorities did the right thing by instructing the motorman to keep the doors closed when the train stopped, moments after a homeless man was stabbed to death?" Right now, the police are losing, but not by all that much.
The story is interesting for a number of reasons, including — in the text but not the poll — the retro term "drifter" instead of the usual PC "homeless man." Homeless suggests that if only this individual had a shelter of his own, there would be no problem. Drifter implies that there is something inherent in the man's nature that keeps him from putting down roots.
Drifter imputes some romance and mystery to a man's story:
"Oh, help me in my weakness,"Homeless sounds empty and needy:
I heard the drifter say,
As they carried him from the courtroom
And were taking him away.
"My trip hasn't been a pleasant one
And my time it isn't long,
And I still do not know
What it was that I've done wrong."
I am homeless, come and take meBut Dwight Johnson's problems are not embodied in either word. The man was mentally ill and terrified of germs. We slangily call germs "bugs," and Gerardo Sanchez made his living killing insects, which are also slangily called "bugs." Now, the Daily News calls Sanchez "bug man." "Bug" can also mean to bother and it can mean to freak out. There is a lot of bug in the story of the drifter and the bug man. Johnson and Sanchez were each concerned with bugs, they bugged each other, and they bugged out.
Into reach of your rattling drums.
And now, poor Johnson is dead and Sanchez's life is ruined.