I am a big believer in public transportation. Mostly the subway, sometimes [not often] the bus. Whenever I can realistically ditch my car, I will. Yes, sometimes my fellow riders smell funny or scratch themselves or speak in funny languages I can't understand. But other times, my encounters are more revealing in other ways. Occasionally, I'm touched by the snapshots of life I'm able to observe and those people that fleetingly pass through my day. Here's one from awhile back:
Midlife Crisis on the Orange Line
Another stop. The doors open. A Latino man sits next to me. He is of stocky build and after only a moment I realize that he is in search of some kind of human connection. He asks the woman across from us if the book she is reading is good. She has her nose buried in a Margot Kidder paperback. She has short, straight blond hair and the demeanor of a typical librarian. She looks at him momentarily and replies, "Yes," and goes back to reading. She crosses her legs. The man looks away in the direction of our future destinations.
Another stop. The doors open. Some students get on. The man notices them, turns to me, and asks if I'm also in school.
"No," I reply. "It's been awhile."
I try to be polite, but I can't think of anything else to say. The man glances again at one of the students and says,
"High school... that was the best time of my life... not a care in the world."
He pauses. The student looks at him briefly and turns away. The man then hangs his head and says, unremarkably and rather glumly:
"I turn 56 next month."
Another stop. The doors open. The man and I get off. We say friendly goodbyes--as polite strangers do. I watch him walk away-- a man unaware that he has many adventures ahead if he only looks for them.