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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Let us be silent [20110228|21:43]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[with a hint of |Eisenfunk - Pong]

Since I tend to take trains at a restricted set of times into London every day, I've managed to make a couple of train friends - but only on the morning trains. In the evenings, there's too much of a scramble to manage to see the same people every time. The National Rail staff at Kings Cross like to exacerbate this situation by announcing the platforms no more than six or seven minutes before the train is due to depart. Now, I don't know if any of you have ever tried to get from the main Kings Cross station to the end of a 12-carriage train on one of the platforms, but I can assure you that only by walking on the verge of a run can you get there in under four minutes. This means that the moment they announce the platform heralds a stampede. I can't imagine what it must be like for anyone who is elderly, physically disabled or even just carrying a heavy bag.

Recently, however, I noticed I was seeing a couple of familiar faces on my evening train. I smile at them, but I'm too tired to make conversation and frankly, I wouldn't want to try. No one wants to have their exhausted naps interrupted. I tend to seek out the end carriage (because it's the first one to pull into Cambridge station). A man in that carriage always sits in the same seat - I have no idea how he manages that; I assume he runs down the platform - and I often sit next to him when the seat is free. I like it because he's quite slim, he looks at his smartphone until we leave the station and then he buttons himself into his coat and goes to sleep. This leaves me free to read or sleep myself, and I'm comfortable in the seat because I'm not being squashed by a gigantic man. I assume he likes it for the same reason - I'm quiet and small and I don't disturb him until I have to leave at Cambridge.

Last week I raced onto the train, having been held up by the Piccadilly line, which was being regulated to even out the gaps in the service. I jumped on the end carriage 45 seconds before departure, not expecting to see any empty seats. I lunged toward the first one I saw, gasping at the man in the aisle seat, "Excuse me, do you mind if I sit there?" He smiled and stood up so I could squeeze myself in. As I fished through my bag in search of my Kindle, I felt eyes on me. I turned my head and caught the eye of the man I would opt to sit next to if I'd seen him. The seat next to him was also empty.

He looked wounded.

The next evening I made a point of getting there early so I could sit next to him. He smiled extra-brightly as he stood up to let me in by the window, and settled happily back for his nap.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: sneakypeteiii
2011-02-28 22:12 (UTC)
I smell fodder for a short-subject film about the meaning of a rich, albeit speechless, human connection that lasts 60-90 minutes a day.

It is a bit depressing, though, to think that these are the things we have come to look forward to in our busy lives.

Well, there you have it: Hope and despair, together again, as always, in art.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:53 (UTC)
I suspect, though, that all things that bring happiness appear trivial. One of my most reliable sources of happiness is the five minutes a day I spend picking up and cuddling the cats when I get home.
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2011-02-28 22:23 (UTC)
It's odd how we get used to having things a certain way and get slightly bent when there is a change in the ordering of our lives. Also, maybe even though you never speak to each other, the many hours of napping and reading next to each other seems sort of intimate in a way. I can see why he was chagrined that you didn't sit next to him!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:49 (UTC)
Yes, me too. I felt bad for the whole journey home. I'm just glad he didn't turn out to be a grudge-holder!
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[User Picture]From: trendyprof
2011-02-28 22:23 (UTC)

This made me smile :)

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:47 (UTC)
We have such strong attachments to habits, no matter how small the amount of happiness they bring.
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[User Picture]From: ursarctous
2011-02-28 22:42 (UTC)
:)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:43 (UTC)
Things like this almost makes it worth it to have a commute this long.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2011-03-01 02:43 (UTC)
You're wanted and loved by many!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:42 (UTC)
Someone else said that I was his teddy bear. Which is exactly what it feels like! :D
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[User Picture]From: feylike
2011-03-01 02:47 (UTC)
this also made me smile. i can totally relate to mutually enjoying someone's presence while never speaking to them.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:38 (UTC)
Yes. It's one of the reasons the bloke & I get on so well. We're both prone to long spells of thinky-thought wherein we forget to speak.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:41 (UTC)
It made me really worried until I was able to make it up to him, poor man!
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[User Picture]From: enterlinemedia
2011-03-01 07:03 (UTC)
I like your stories about your life.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:36 (UTC)
Thank you. It's a very quiet life.
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From: pbristow
2011-03-01 13:41 (UTC)
Aw. [GOOFY SMILE]

Thankyou for sharing that.

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-01 20:36 (UTC)
You're welcome. I'm glad you liked it.
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[User Picture]From: helpful_mammal
2011-03-02 21:28 (UTC)
I love those sort of moments, they're always so unexpected.

The rules and etiquette of commuting are many and varied. Also obscure and secret. And some of them are unspoken personal traditions.

I'm so glad you posted this... it means all (or at least something) is well in the world. :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-06 22:21 (UTC)
I don't think I've got hold of all the rules of commuting. Although, as one of my train friends pointed out, if I knew them all in advance, I mightn't have any train friends. ;)
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[User Picture]From: danaid_luv
2011-03-03 23:50 (UTC)
As trite as it may sound, it really *is* the little things that make our lives..better...different ...interesting. I really enjoy reading these little moments of your life.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-03-06 22:20 (UTC)
Yes. I've just hung up after speaking to my parents and I'm all amused from hearing them talking over each other when they're trying to tell me a story and saying "shush" alternately.
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