Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Views from a Subway

Sometimes – infrequently, but sometimes – I feel like I miss out on things by not having to get onto a Metro every day. Much as I love and enjoy my close-to-nonexistent "commute" of three blocks each way, I wonder what kind of stuff I'm missing out on by not having to join the throngs of sardine-packed subway riders on a regular basis. (At the very least, for example, it means very few people ever see me during rush hour commute time, which means I'm less likely to become the subject of a Craigslist Missed Connection.)

The one time I join the subway crowd is Tuesday nights, when I more-or-less regularly head out to Clarendon to play some poker. Last night's ride netted me a few stories:

Sandwiched in as we were, eavesdropping was absolutely unavoidable. At one point, a nice young woman (literally six inches from me) (go ahead, get the "six inches" jokes out of the way now; I'll wait) mentioned to her companion (a handsome young man who, alas, wore a wedding ring) a birthday lunch she had to go to tomorrow, at which point I let loose an involuntary "D'oh!" and smacked my hand over my mouth. She looked at me funny, obliging me to explain that I had forgotten to email a friend of mine, whose birthday was yesterday.

Later, at a different stop, people tried to jam their way into the doors. As the doors came to a close, I heard the unmistakable gutteral noises of a person who didn't quite make it all the way into the train before the doors hunkered down. I involuntarily laughed; the young woman laughed with me. Or at least I hope she laughed with me, and not at me.

A nice woman was reading to her daughter on the train. This is most welcome sound as compared to other, more obnoxious chatter one could have found on a train. So I got to hear a bit of Amelia Bedelia for a little bit. From what little I heard, that girl never is referred to as "Amelia"; it's always "Amelia Bedelia." What's up with that? By the way, if your last name is "Bedelia," I suggest that it's criminally cruel to name your child "Amelia," and facing a firing squad at sunrise is the only real acceptable punishment. Anyway, I digress: while it was nice that this woman was reading to her (very sweet and kind) child on the subway, man, she was boring at it. Very few vocal inflections, not a lot of animation to the story. And she was reading a bit fast, too. Really, the kid's supposed to enjoy that? I would suggest that the reader slow down and make it more fun for the listener. I know I wasn't terribly excited by her reading style. I could kick ass at reading to kids.

At some point, I managed to grab hold of one of the vertical poles that extends up from a seat back. Bored, I started to tap on it with my nails. I was tapping out a song, really, so I'll admit that this wasn't just some idle tapping. As if enchanted by Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (I'm deeply regressing to children's books now), a woman from the window seat looked up from her book then looked at me. Keep in mind, the train, while not exceedingly noisy, is not pin-drop silent at this point. I made it a point to avoid her gaze, but my peripheral vision picked it up and, well, I could feel her eyeballs descending upon me like a swarm of locusts. After maybe ten agonizing seconds of this game (me tapping the pole and looking away; she glaring at me), my eyes drifted to her. Without any actual sound coming from her mouth, the words "Could you stop that please?" formed on her lips. I made a quizzical face at her and mouthed back, "Huh?" Of course, while I did that, I stopped tapping, and she mouthed, "Thank you." Some people are so sensitive. I still have no idea why she couldn't actually speak the words. Apparently a significant sensitivity to, well, anything with an actual decibel level.

Eventually – because I was nice enough to move toward the center of the train instead of crowding around the doors like a veal before the slaughter – I had to push past about 8 people to get out of the train at my stop. Thankfully, most everyone accommodated my request to excuse me (ah, the power of "please"). Note I said "most" everyone. Because there's always one, isn't there?

And yet, as I checked today, I still don't think I made it into a Missed Connection.


suze said...

dude. Amelia Bedelia would not be the same if you didn't have to refer to both her names. Those books were some of my favourites when I was a kid. (*sigh* memories...)

as much as I hate having to take public transporation, there are few better opportunities for people watching.

Jon said...

I think it evens out in the end, I mean, you can afford to get up much later than most of your coworkers if you only live 3 blocks away from work!