Subway Scenes

A little boy, Japanese, barely bigger than his backpack, clad in a mish-mash of colorful prints I’m sure he picked out himself, accompanying his dad, weighed down himself in front by a platter of takeout from the sushi place.  As the train bends and sways, the boy tips back, dad tips forward.

* * *

The new turnstiles on the T, with the clever electronic innards, mean nothing– at least to the fare-jumper whose arms are long enough to allow him to lift his pack, up and over, and wave it in front of the exit motion sensor.  The doors part, the alarm sounds.  By the time any help arrives, the fare-jumper has sauntered into the throng.

* * *

The clown?  The storyteller? in a yellow T-shirt, red plaid pants, All-Stars and a bowler– telling the tale of Androcles and the Lion to a group of disinterested travelers, waylaid at Downtown Crossing.  He takes advantage of my passing to cringe, mouselike, in my lion-like presence.

* * *

The college-aged girl, heedless of others, as she sobs into her phone, describing some lover’s spat to the friend on the other end of the line– she may be unconscious of surrendering her privacy, or of simply not caring that others must hear, but I’m embarrassed for her and for us that our sense of privacy and public dignity is so eroded, by whatever means, that the rest must sit by, unwilling party to her halting, crying “whys?”

* * *

A group of high school kids, ending their after-school-programmed day, still wound up.  Yelling, singing, dancing, laughing at the top of their lungs– with looks they think are sly toward adults sitting near, ignoring them.  They’re hoping we’ll be shocked.  Instead, we’re amused, or merely bored, since we remember our own callow youths.

* * *

Everybody’s reading, chatting, plugged in.  No one just looks, just watches the trees pass or the lights dip and flash as pre-summer dusk sets in.  It’s late, they’re tired, and focused on home, soon, not here, now.


13 thoughts on “Subway Scenes

  1. Mike Golch

    I have not had the pleasure to experience some ot the stuff you do,maily we do not have a true subway system,the closes thing it the rapid trasit fronm the east sied to the west going to the airport.

  2. Maureen

    Ah, yes, the commute. I remember those days in London UK. Instead of the iPod, I had a walkman but everything seems the same except for the privacy thing. I agree that privacy and public dignity have been extremely and sadly eroded as a result of new technologies.

  3. Mary Ann

    Scenes from my commute home:

    -stuck behind a tractor. Again. Maybe he’ll turn right at the light instead of left. No, no, he’s turning left and, will you look at that? His shirt doesn’t cover his stomach.

    -stuck behind the school bus. Again. 1st graders run off the bus with great joy straight into the arms of their mommies. The mommies wave to Jerry (yep, really his name and I really know it), the wee ones wave to Jerry. Under my breath I whisper, “Bye Jerry!”

    -stuck behind the mailtruck. Again. I wonder if there will be a break in oncoming traffic so I can pass? I wonder if I have any good mail waiting for me? Did I put my click’n’ship packages out this morning? Did I remember to send in the cell phone payment? Oh, look, a break in traffic.

    – stuck at the light. Again. trees in bloom. flowers in bloom. elderly couple walking along admiring the trees and flowers. big smile. those trees? those flowers? they’re so beautiful. that couple? even more beautiful.

  4. writer reading

    This is a wonderful kaleidescope of the travellers on public transportation in a city. I especially love the fare-jumper melding and the girl sobbing into her phone — public cell phone users tend to think they are in some sort of virtual private phone booth.

  5. Cheri @ Blog This Mom!

    A lovely and insightful woman, wearing hose and high heels. She carries a small and empty lunch cooler that held delicious potatoes mashed with fresh parsley only hours before. Wise eyes peer over the top of the tres chic glasses perched on her nose. She observes.

  6. Terra

    Hi there! Just wanted to let you know I am a reader, and I wanted you to visit my blog to see an award that I have there for you.

  7. g

    Great new site! Wonderful subway observances. I love the teenagers! And your embarrassed/empathetic take on the girl with the phone.


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