-- --

Monday, February 26, 2007

Strangers on a Train

Photo by Eye2eye.

This afternoon I stood in the open air of the Smith and 9th Street station, waiting for the F train. It's only eight miles between Greenpoint and Park Slope, Brooklyn, but today's commute took a good hour and a half. Across the way, the platform was littered with people headed toward the city. We looked at each other sullenly across four rows of train tracks.

Ten feet away, navy windbreaker guy was talking with visiting friends or relatives. His audience was obviously from another place, because they talked loudly and wore colorful clothes. Navy windbreaker guy kept whirling about on one leg, stopping to check me out, then whirling again. I pretended to be engrossed in my magazine.

Just moments earlier, I’d been lost in thought on the G train. The train had jerked to a stop, and I was startled to find myself staring at the crotch of navy windbreaker guy. This sent me thinking about the differences between men and women: when a woman looks at a man, it means something, but when a man says ‘I’ll call you’ it means nothing.

This afternoon, I wanted to turn to the twirling man and swap roles. I wanted to wave and say: ‘Hey. I’ll call you. Really.’ But the train came round the bend at that moment, its orange sign cutting through the grey afternoon. I felt a surge of hope and forgot what I was thinking. We took to boarding the train - the twirling man, his visiting friends and I - and the moment was lost.