Riding Metro North. Lacking Connection.


It’s 8:58 p.m.
The 9:06 is not reachable from my position in Manhattan.
Later train, late night and another red-eye loop of early morning, late night and early morning. Do Over.

It’s Hour 17 on the shot clock on Tuesday evening.
Yet, it can’t touch me. Not tonight.
I’m primed with three glasses of Napa Chardonnay from dinner, and it’s lifting the fatigue off the mat. The mind lolls in a mist. Could this be bliss? Or inebriation?

Tourists are milling on Fifth Avenue.
Smoke hangs over the grill of a food cart. Middle eastern music is blaring from a boom box. The proprietor is whacking away at the chicken on the grill. How could I possibly be hungry?

I find my seat on the 9:39. And settle.

She boards the train.

Blonde, middle age, white collared shirt, pearls, dark gray blazer, and closed-shoe pumps with 3″ heels. Lawyer?
She places her leather bag on the seat, sits and tugs her skirt down over her knees.
She pulls a tablet from her bag, covers her mouth and coughs. And coughs again and again. Smoker’s cough.
The commuter next to her has his laptop open and his fingers are working the keys. He hasn’t lifted his head. Techie?

The train pulls out of Grand Central at 9:39 pm and rumbles through the dark tunnel.

As we exit the tunnel, the conductor comes on the P.A.: “Next Stop, Grand Central.”
He then repeats himself: “Next Stop will be, Stamford.”

She closes her tablet, places it in her lap and looks across to Techie.
“Is it any wonder that there are train derailments?”
Techie looks up and shrugs his shoulders.
“Where do they find these idiots?”
The Techie smiles and drops his head back to his computer.
She looks across to the commuter in another seat.
“What is wrong with these people?”
She fails to be acknowledged, and is more agitated.

The conductor walks by to collect tickets.
She pulls him aside.
“You know that we just left Grand Central.”
Yes, Mam.”
“Then, why did you just say the next stop will be Grand Central?”
“It’s an automated message Mam. It was an error.”

She won’t let it go.
The train accelerates on its way North.
“Are you sure that there aren’t other malfunctions on this train?”
“Yes Mam. Everything will be fine.”

The conductor comes back on the P.A.: “Sorry folks, the next stop will be Greenwich.”
She stares at me, raises her hands, aghast at being brushed off: “Can you believe how incompetent they are?”
I sit expressionless and stare back.  Lady, can’t you just sit still and shut up? Or better yet, get off.

Not getting a reaction from a rider in any direction,
she folds her hands in her lap,
sits quietly,
and exits at the next stop.

Epilogue: At 9:21 pm Tuesday Night, the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed in Philadelphia killing 8 people and injuring 200.

Everyone suffers, silently or obviously, one way or the other. Once you see that connection, tenderness follows.

~ Maggie Lane, Tenderness Follows



  1. Always tenderness here, David. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. chilling………….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your excellent writing triggers many thoughts, David. The superseding being the harshness of a big city. Everyone for themselves in the crowd. Agitation from merciless, long work days. No priming, no bliss. No connection. It’s hard even for someone in 3″ heals.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is real and raw. Wonderful writing, the ending sad and inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your writing, David…you are so aware and you capture so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You got me. Right in the gut.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Goosebumps… Wow.


  9. Visceral, pal. I so, so hope you publish a book of essays one of these days….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love the quote by Maggie. Love your writing. It’s scary how many people are uptight, stressed and can unravel from a simple train announcement. Breathe Breathe. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Some people just really like to make a big deal out of nothing…

    Liked by 1 person

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