A man boards the 8:28 at White Plains. He’s tall and heavy-set, and looks like he played high school football 40 years before. He’s got white hair, glasses, a large suitcase, light blue jeans that look scarily close to Toughskins that his wife bought for him at Caldor. (Two Toughskins mentions on Trainjotting in the past few days. You’d think they were advertising here or something.)
He’s quiet for the first 10 minutes, though I feel him looking around, searching for an opportunity to make his presence felt.
As we near Bronkers, he can’t contain himself any longer. He makes eye contact with a guy a few rows up and across the aisle who’s facing him.
“Duz thee-is trayyn go ex-pray-is to Grand Central?”
“Yup,” comes the response. “125th then Grand Central.”
“Wow,” the guy responds. (I’m going to stop writing in phonetics cuz it’s hard to do.) “That’s a lot of ground to cover.”
The guy up and over nods, smiles and goes back to his book.
But the big fella continues.
“My first time on the Metro-North,” he says. “I’m just a country boy.”
The up and over guy nods, this time without the smile.
“Sure covers a lot of ground,” he continues. “Expensive too. I was in L.A. recently, paid $1.50 to ride 50 miles.”
“Bet you were still in L.A. when you got off,” comes a response from another guy across the aisle.
Then it’s quiet for a few minutes, but the big fella isn’t content reading his Google Maps printout.
“You sure are reading that book fast,” he says to the second guy he’d spoken to. “Are you really comprehending it all?”
“Probably not,” the guy says with a laugh. “But if I’m not comprehending it, I’ll probably never know.” It was some sort of joke, the best you’ll do on a Monday morning train.
The Metro-North virgin is smashing every commuter rule he can: Talking to strangers, especially those not right next to him. Talking to a guy who has to turn around to respond. Talking to a guy who’s clearly immersed in his reading. The only way it would be more of a transgression would be if the big hayseed was chatting up a guy in headphones.
The man then starts asking about getting a bus to LaGuardia, and the first man he spoke to tells him there’s a bus at 125th [Editor’s Note: Freudian Slip of the day–I typed “buzz” instead of “bus.”]. They dissect the finer points of bus transportation, LaGuardia and 125th until we arrive in Harlem. The first guy was getting off, and said he’d show the big hayseed where to go.
As they exited the train, Big Country continued to pepper the poor commuter with inane questions.