I commute on the train daily now. I’ve gotten really close to the people on the train. Not all of them–just the ones whose butts and fronts are uncomfortably close to my face when I get a seat. I’ve also gotten close to the ones I’ve fallen on when I don’t get a seat and the train stops abruptly like the magnificent unicorn that it is.
It’s weird to be so physically close to people and their various parts with varying levels of hygiene. It’s a kind of public intimacy, but to know nothing about them beyond their appearance and our private judgements on that.
I spend more time in this collective closeness of the Brown Line than with many of the people with whom I’m truly close. How can I better spend this time, this sleepy encounter (in the morning–everyone is so quiet) and tired companions (in the evening)? How can I pay forward some humor and humanity in the morning?
I’m not looking so much to create a spectacle of this public private thing called commuting, but I’d like to see it more as an opportunity to receive it as the gift it is, spending time with other humans, unrepeatable people who have gifts, talents, experiences, imaginations, love, and loss within them, rather than seeing them as…well, butts.
Stay tuned for more commuting tales of inspiration and naturally, woe. My daily train rides are my morning monastery, my evening retreat. And a tremendous source of comedic material.
This is a Five Minute Friday post, an unpretentious literary party. Join us.
I just love this so much. though it’s been a while since I’ve had to commute on public transportation, I have definitely experienced falling onto someone on a train. I love that you are looking into this “public intimacy”. Will look forward to more of your “commuting tales”!
Thank you Zohary! I’ve been in Chicago for over a year now, and although it’s not my first foray into public transit, it’s my first time being on a train almost daily for long periods (45min+ each way). Lots of time for thought, observation, reading, reflection, and humor. Definitely more commuting tales (and games…oh, intriguing) to come.
Very Funny. I love humor myself.
Oh good. You’re in the right place, then. (And thank you!)
A wonderful post, so glad to find you through Five Minute Friday. I rode the train for a few weeks in Japan, such an interesting experience.
Thank you for stopping by, Heidi! What were you doing in Japan, and how was that experience?
A friend of mine recreated a parody Metra newsletter on his train and passed it out once a week with funny articles and stuff. They loved it.
A t-shirt with a QR code or short url” Scan for a good time” – and it sends them to a quick video of you telling a joke.
Just some thoughts off the top of my head.
I like that idea–CTA Onion. There’s definitely plenty of material to pull from. Hmm…I think the QR code idea is fun, although the wording might not be my favorite, bein’ a lady and all. I’m not a joke teller per se, but that might be a good idea when I try short form comedy/ stand up, or if I start producing video sketches. Thanks for the ideas!!
I just came home from a trip to Europe where we rode on every possible form of transit available including public trains and busses and I can totally relate. Being stuck standing close to complete strangers for a few stops and being glad it’s finally time to get off! It’s an interesting form of travel though and I kind of wish I lived somewhere I could do it regularly.