May 11, 2015

Below the surface

Waiting for a train

The trains in Big City Like No Other are fast and efficient, the best way to travel any distance. But what I love is the way they offer glimpses city life.

A woman enters, herding two small children who are chatting about their trip to the park, which apparently involved ice cream. Several teenagers in dark hoodies trade insulting jokes about some baseball team. Three young people dressed smartly in suits talk about a meeting, the details of which are incredibly boring. An older woman has been shopping: the bag rests on the seat next to her. The young woman with the tattoos is reading a book of poetry. An older man climbs on and sits down gratefully: he looks exhausted.

Even when I'm just waiting for a train, I stare across at the people on the opposite platform. We are separated only by a couple of train tracks, but that's enough to make it feel like I'm watching a movie. That couple look like they are bickering: will they make up before they get to their destination? Those two women sitting next to each other, both with the same weary expression: I wonder if they're sisters, both thinking about an emotional event that affected them both. That young woman who keeps looking at her phone and jiggling her left leg is probably late for an important meeting. I wonder if that nervousness will turn to adrenaline once she arrives.

You could ride the trains all day and just keep seeing narrative after narrative in the passengers around you.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the NYC subway is the great equalizer. Everyone rides it! LOVE that photo.


Melissa Sarno said...

The subway inspires a lot of my stories. I've been thinking of starting a subway series!

Thea said...

The NYC subway is the best.

Annette G said...

I always marvel at the idea of the subway. It's such a wild concept and using them and them making perfect sense has carried a little awe with it. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

I love to watch people! My late father was employed by Atlanta's mass transit system and rapid rail.