Friday, March 27, 2009

Stranger on a Train

Sometimes strangers make me cheerful! Like little kids in down jackets, arms forcibly splayed sideways, playing with snowballs. That thug-looking teen who gave up his metro seat to that very pregnant woman who had just gotten on the train. Elderly couples who walk hand-in-hand. That beautiful Ethiopian woman who worked at that pizza shop I frequented back when I interned in DC, who called me Sweetie as she brought me my usual veggie slice and lemonade.

Sometimes strangers break my heart.

I was on the train yesterday afternoon when a metro train driver got on my car, wearing the standard fluorescent yellow mesh vest. He slouched into the seat in front of me and pulled out his phone as the train pulled away from the station.

His phone was high up enough for me to see the text he was composing -- I wasn't trying to read it, but there it was. "I don't know what you want me to say. Just tell me what you want to do so we can be done with it."

My inner voyeur jolted. UH OH! she thought. Shit's going down! Then he paused before sending it, and scrolled down so the previous message was showing. The one that prompted his text.

"I think we need to talk," it said. "I'm not happy with this marriage anymore."

I felt like someone had poured ice water down my back. I was simultaneously overwhelmed with awkwardness at unintentionally invading his privacy at what was probably one of his most vulnerable moments; and a bone-crushing sadness, not only to be witnessing the breakup of a marriage, but that said breakup was happening via text message. Text message! He leaned his head against the glass of the train window, as if trying to melt into his surroundings, fluorescent vest and all.

And just the day before, I had felt positively consumed with love. I still do. Life's funny that way.

PS: How about a cheerier post? Let's say, tomorrow? I feel like I've been a downer lately!

1 comment:

Julia said...

this is really awkward. as nosy as i am, i always feel really weird witnessing very private moments of strangers.