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Downtown 6 Train

March 21, 2008

When she walked on the train, I knew the kind of person she was. I’m not saying, I knew but I knew. You know?

She looked unsure of herself, but sure of how she handled these situations. I saw her survey her surrounding and realize there wasn’t an open seat. She took her back pack off her back, but kept it on one shoulder, possessive of herself materially and physically, the back pack wasn’t going to come all the way off. She moved towards a bar, and planted her feet. She stood right in front of me.

She wore all black, it is the most flattering color.

As I looked up at her standing in front of me, I could see how dry her hands were. I chanced a glance at her face, which was moisturized and made up, but not overdone. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t taken care of her hands. They appeared dry from too much washing, too much time spent ensuring things were just so, too much time making up for something she felt was lacking.

She was short, and could just barely reach the top bar. Each time she could afford to, her hand came down and she held her book, but when she tried to balance as the train jerked and moved she had to continually stretch back up and hold on.

I wasn’t judging, more just observing. There are so many people to watch on the train.

The next day I saw a guy seated across from me, he was so flawlessly put together. Polished shoes, pressed trousers, shirt and tie and a trench coat with a popped collar. His hair was styled, but looked effortless with just the hint of product. He had a soft face, and I kind of wanted to think he was one of “those guys”, but he portrayed something sweet and gentle. I’m sure he was someone who enjoyed a social life, plenty of women and a job on a high powered track, but as much as I wanted to make a story with judgments thrown in, I couldn’t. Something about him just seemed too real and down to earth. As we moved out of 14th street, a woman stepped on and leaned against the door opposite him. I saw him glance at her, taking her in, from his look she must be worth checking out. He did it again several times, reading her face, processing what he saw. I could see a sense of confidence and wonder in his look, like he was thinking, “She’s hot, I could get her number if I wanted.” I almost hoped to watch him track her down as we all exited the train and ask for a number, but he didn’t. On to bigger and better, I guess.

This morning as I stepped in to place, I half stepped on someone’s foot. The woman who it belonged too jerked it away quickly, angrily. She was clearly not just annoyed, but pissed. I looked down at her, saying “Sorry” as I did. Her face was covered with a graffitied Ed Hardy hat, ear phones in and IPod touch held protectively in her hands. She clearly didn’t hear me, but as I lifted my head up I saw her look up at me, annoyance passing over her face. Now I was annoyed. The vibe from her was aggressive, and I almost wanted to say, “It’s not like I stepped on your foot on purpose.”

A few stops later I was able to sit down, across from her. I took her in. Her eyes were closed now as we moved further downtown. I saw an enormous diamond ring on her ring finger and immediately thought, “Maybe she’s got to portray some kind of tough attitude to protect that.” Whatever it was, it stuck with me, as did the other two people I came across this week. The people you run in to, sometimes literally, on a daily commute.

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