It's not the Orient Express..

I totally have one of those faces...yes the one that seems to attract strangers to cross Grand Central through the throngs of people to stop and ask me for directions.  I am the one who on a subway, a New York City subway where people are known for avoiding eye contact as if the laser beams would melt the other person, who people not only sat next to but would ask (multiple occurrences) what I was listening to on my Walkman then iPod, would read the short stories I was writing and add "helpful" comments and even discuss whatever reading material I had.  Yes I have that kind of face.

I defined myself as a commuter, though I always took the "train" aka subway or bus to work I never really thought of myself as a commuter, when I moved to the 'burbs and had to get on an actual train with a schedule, a clearer PA system (no more Stan Clea Clos Do), and an expensive monthly ticket.  Have to say I laugh when these folks from up here complain that they have to sit 3 in a 3 seater (2 on each end is preferred) or switch from their "usual" spot.  Lightweights, guess they never took a 7 train at rush hour, seats hah - sardines have more wiggle room.  Usual spot - yes shoved against a pole with what on a bad day can be nicely described as human funk.  Now  we all know I love the subway but am not delusional about the quality of the ride.

I really like my train ride, on the side of the Hudson River, quiet, pretty much on time, runs frequently....but I have also come to look forward to my "usual" crowd.  You see, for those of you who do not partake in this chariot of choice to work, when you commute from the same location on the platform at roughly the same time in the morning you tend to get to know your fellow passengers.  You get to share names, get asked if you were ill or on vacation when you switch your train time and they do not see you for a while, you may hear more information about a divorce or a marriage than you anticipate and you tend to sit in the same formation in the seats.  There is train etiquette (men read the paper first and then a book and talk less, not a lot of talking on cell phones or trust me your fellow riders will have a comment, women talk or read, you keep the voices lowered - stereotypes yes but pretty accurate ones). There are the odd people who you and your friends talk about, you know High School style name calling like the Oompa Loompa (year round fake tan orange woman, nasty and ready to run you over in the lot by the train), the weird guy with the gym bag who huffs and puffs if someone sits next to him, there was even a woman who used to bring scissors (multiple sizes) and clip her arm hair (that one freaked me out people and of course she sat next to me repeatedly and talked to me), the woman who smelled so strongly of booze every time (yes she likes to sit and talk to me also) that I sometimes felt I had a hangover when we got to Grand Central.There is a crowd of men who plays poker on the 5:38 pm every day - 4 seater, cardboard on their laps for a table. 

There are also friends who I commute with which become part of the seating arrangement  ...non-stop chatting here at what you hope is not a loud level except when you crack each other up....and who the men, I have befriended in this group, will razz us both mercilessly about how much we can talk in 45 minutes considering we see each other almost every day.  You text your friends to see what time they are going home.  You get a lot of reading and music time in...oh OK and Facebook (whatever!!).  Mostly though, since I have one of those faces that even in more hostile environments encouraged camaraderie, I found a group of people who befriended me and understand we all just need to get there and get through the day.  I like my first car 7:40 am crowd...I miss my 8:09 am group...and I look forward to looking out the window to start and end my day with a view of a gorgeous river that I glide along in a silver bullet from a skyscraper wonder of a city to a tree lined quaint town. Now if we could only get that bar car that the Connecticut line has....


  1. so true... I laughed, because I thought gym bag guy was going to explode one time I sat next to him... and the card guys were pretty funny...


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