Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Passenger Love

Usually we passengers travel as if alone on the train, faking obliviousness. We read, listen to music, or stare at our umbrellas. The only acknowledgment of other passengers comes in the form of moving body parts or bags, making room for the influx of commuters at stations.

Sometimes, though, braking trains warrant passenger contact.

The One's design is different from the other trains. It features the same four-seat areas, but also, a group of six seats whose backs are flush to the wall. The passengers in those seats travel sideways. Between these opposing seats is standing room, complete with bars hanging from the ceiling to ensure balance.

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to secure one of those six seats. Not a prime location since people stand directly in front of you, but a seat just the same. The One rattled on.

The passengers in front of me were expert commuters; they ignored the handles and poles, chatting on their cell phones and reading the day's paper.

Until it came: the emergency brake. The populus in front of me fell, hard. We six suddenly found passengers in our laps. My businessman and I exchanged panic-stricken looks. He leaped back to his feet, as did the other fifteen passengers in my area.

Once stable, he smiled. The others chuckled as they put away cell phones and papers and gripped the bars tightly. Excuse mes and pardons were exchanged. I found myself smiling, if only briefly, with my fellow passengers. I looked them straight on, and they did the same.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love to see children on the subway; they are the only humans you can look at in the eye and be assured they will unblinkingly look right back and even smile.

11:55 PM, April 19, 2005  

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