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Train reactions

A 4 segment panorama of the Grand Central Stat...

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Gotta love commuters in New York. They have provided me with endless hours of entertainment, and yesterday was no exception — although I could have used a bit more excitement than I got.

Work found me back on the Old Greenwich platform for the first time in a year. It was a later train than the one I used to take when I commuted daily, so Patterned Tights Lady and Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones Guy were not among my seatmates. However, my traveling companions were no less fascinating — once we sorted out whose knees went where.

Here’s some of what I saw and heard on the train:

Guy next to me in chalk-stripe suit spent the whole ride referencing a typed list of tasks related to a home remodel. Not sure if he’s the contractor, homeowner or doing the work on his own nights and weekends. Duties included: Pour concrete. Complete master. HVAC and radiant heat.

In Riverside, a middle-aged couple got on and sat across from me. They spoke little throughout the ride, but shared the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. The wife was all Talbots chic and wearing a huge, square-cut diamond ring. The husband was decked out in a brand-new suit, sharp French cuffs, polished shoes. I know the suit was new because when he got up at Grand Central, there were two white thread Xs holding the jacket’s back vents in place. His wife hurriedly undid them as they raced from the train while I mused about whether the pockets were still sewn shut.

Their quiet intimacy played in contrast to that of a couple who got on in New Rochelle. Trouble on the tracks meant an unexpected stop (funny how the more things change … well you know the rest) and a bunch of people squeezed into the cars, standing in the center aisle the whole trip. Anyway, this one couple — older than the straight-laced pair across from me — couldn’t keep their hands off each other and spent the miles kissing, caressing and whispering sweet nothings.

Everyone else was tucked into their newspaper, smart phone or Kindle — or else catching up on their sleep. I did wonder what one fellow — wearing shoulder-length blond hair, a tweed jacket and jeans — did for a living. He seemed such a contradiction.

Grand Central brought more mis-matched folks to feast my eyes on, including a man who outfitted his denim with a top hat and tails, a variety of Vogue-ready fall boots and tights, and several women with shaved heads (not traveling together — I didn’t realize this look was catching on).

I was sure the subway would bring me more interesting people-watching, but alas, beneath the steady stare of ads for sleep apnea cures and treatments for erectile dysfunction, it was just a group of normal, tired-looking everyday folks.

It’s likely that among the straphangers, I stood out as one who did not quite belong. I have the opposite of a poker face and I’m sure my rising panic was evident upon realizing I was headed the wrong way, even though I tried very hard to remain calm.

No worries; I got to my destination in time after all.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


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