The Train Friend – Part One

I originally wrote this as a contribution to the transportation blog “Stand Clear, Doors Are Closing.” It was first posted on January 10, 2014. I never did get around to writing part two, and sadly it will probably have to wait until I am once again an active rail commuter.

Hi everyone! My name’s Sam, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.

When Amy asked me if I might like to contribute to Stand Clear, my internal reaction was something along the lines of, “I love telling people my opinions!”, so of course my response was, “I’ll think about it.”

And the rest is history.

So today, fellow commuters, I’m going to start on a topic very near and dear to my heart. Because, lurking on potentially any train, in any car, could be a member of that most elusive and reticent species: the train friend.

You can of course only encounter the train friend in his or her natural habitat, but fortunately that always happens to be whichever train you are on (or bus, let’s not discriminate). The train friend might be difficult to spot at first, amidst the herd of normal train-goers, but you may discover one at any part of your commute. Maybe someone you’ve sat next to coincidentally, maybe someone who often waits on the same platform as you, or maybe someone you’ve just nearly fallen on when the sudden slowing of the train made you lose your grip on the metal pole.

First comes observation. Perhaps it’s an article of clothing, like brightly colored socks. Or maybe some facial expression. Or, if we can be honest with ourselves occasionally, maybe it’s just a hot girl. But something draws your attention to this person in particular, from the sea of otherwise-worthy humans. Something marks them.

Next comes the curiosity. Who is this person? What is their story? What series of events, unfortunate or otherwise, led them down the path that would cause their someday-occupation of the very same train car as you? Is it possible they know a great restaurant that you don’t? or a quiet park? or an engrossing book, or a dance-able song? or maybe they have some amazing story to tell?! I mean, you’re looking at a human being, someone’s who has roamed this planet for years, that’s thousands of days, millions of seconds. There must be something unique about this person, and maybe they’ll share that with you!

After curiousity is fear. Because let’s face it, the kind of people that usually come up to me on the metro typically fall under the broad category of weirdo/creep/mentally ill. And I’m sure it’s even worse for the hot girls. Very likely, even though you want to show a little good will, some signal to say “hey, we’re both people, isn’t that somethin’?”, it’ll just be interpreted as “give me some money.”

But from fear comes resolution. Just think about it: wouldn’t you be delighted if some pleasant person were to walk up to you and start a friendly, stress-free conversation? I love it when people show genuine, non-creepy interest, and I always enjoy the chance to share my quirks, and fascinations, and especially my opinions! If a person honestly wants to get to know me, I’m all for it. So why should you expect the world to end if you say hi to a stranger?

You eye the creature, reluctant. You make a hesitant move forward, but it’s not too late to retreat to the safety of your metal pole…

Oh, for f#@k’s sake, what’s the worst that could happen?

“Hi, I love your socks! My name’s Sam, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

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