Riding Metro North. With The Case.


I’m sitting out of your view, bottom right corner of the photo. It’s the fourth train of the day, the 6:16 am to Grand Central. Standing room only. Sort of.

That’s him, with The Case. Large. Brown. Leather. It’s gotta be 20″ x 14″, an old school Beast. The four brass nubs protecting the base have lost their sheen. And Case, takes up an entire seat. The commuter across from Case, has to sit diagonally to avoid contact. Overhead storage is empty, the vestibule has four riders standing for the 50 minute duration.

A Suit walks down the aisle looking for a seat, slowing as he approaches Case’s Owner. He pauses to see if there is recognition, there is none, he elects to avoid contact, and pushes on to the next train car.

Case’s Owner wears gold wire rimmed glasses, a gold wedding band and black slip-ons, adorned with unmistakeable gold buckles, Ferragamo’s. His heavy wool navy sport coat is oversize and he’s tie-less with an open shirt collar. Hair, on top, on front, on sides has long since abandoned him, but keeps his occiput warm.

His eyes pan the pages of a magazine, glossy ads shimmering – cologne, Calvin Klein underwear, Piaget watches.  He flips the magazine onto the seat across from him and grabs another.  Yes, across from him, there, in the top middle left of the photo, occupying yet another seat, are two other magazines. The train rocks forward, he slides his hand over the left corner of the Case, pulling it back. He does feel The Case edging off the seat.

Three commuters, two students and a nurse, each see the empty seats from the platform at Harlem & 125th. They board the train, turn left to grab a seat. Case’s Owner doesn’t lift his head, they frown and turn back to stand in the vestibule.

We pull into Grand Central. He collects his magazines, and flips open The Case, the two buckles snap and echo in the train car. He tosses his magazines in.

He exits. I follow.

I catch him a few yards ahead, slow to his pace, and close in – wanting, no needing to get a look. My shadow sucks up the excess oxygen, he looks up.

I pause, pass Judgment and walk on.

There, feel better?


  • Inspired by: “When I label people, I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully. I no longer have to feel overwhelmed by their complexity, the lives they live, the dreams they have. I know exactly where they are inside—or forever outside—my field of care, because they’ve been taken care of. The mystery of their existence has been solved and filed away before I’ve had a chance to be moved by them or even begun to catch a glimpse of who they might be. They’ve been neutralized. There’s hardly any action quite so undemanding, so utterly unimaginative, as the affixing of a label. It’s the costliest of mental shortcuts.”  ~ David Dark, Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious


  1. No one said anything to him…? If it happened in here, I can’t imagine, what would be?
    Thank you dear Dave, have a nice day and weekend, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, if only one person had asked to sit there – he may have redeemed himself. Or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s so easy to label. I do it all the time. To think we know the inner workings of a complex unique mind is funny. At the end of the day, we know nothing. Infact, most of us know nothing about who we are, let alone anyone else, and it’s an illusion to think that we do. Always love your writing. I’m right there with you. 😎

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Now that is one train I would have loved to be on.

    Why didn’t you trip him?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. definitely, a great read David!
    Loved those shiny black shoes….
    Karen’s thoughts were so fascinating; Sawsan with the tripping idea had me in stitches 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’d not have said a word. I would have just taken my seat on top of that case.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. As my daughters occasionly remind me, “Dad, some days it just really is about me” Maybe he was having one of those days?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. maybe he bought an extra ticket just for The Case…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Somehow, David, this doesn’t fit the image I have of New Yorkers! I’d have expected someone to have challenged him. Guess I’ll have to rethink my ‘judgment’! 😉 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Enjoyed this post. So much humanness! I also was caught by your “inspired by” quote.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reminds me of one of my favorites of yours “Driving. Exit 9” about the panhandler and the jerk in the corvette.
    You should have clipped the heel of his Ferragamo’s from behind. Watch him have to put his shoe back on.
    Don’t you hate it when that happens?
    I’m a firm believer we mostly earn our labels. I know I have.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. his case, its space, and lack of eye contact are his protective shields from the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It says a lot about him. Me, me, me! Not a person I would care to know. Great job of writing it, David. Nicely done.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Not someone I would wish to know in any universe. AND I would have gotten a full frontal/face shot of him as well! Made a poster, put in in the train station – but this is as much fantasy as the chance that I would Ever live in a city, amen. Anyway, another fun tale from DK, enjoying finally exploring your blog now and again in between walks on ocean cliffs and tending to my garden 😉 Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A full blown narcissist or maybe related to Trump. ☺☺☺

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Enjoyed your vivid and well illustrated case study in proxemics, David.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Oh, I loved this. The non-confrontation seemed very British to me–so subtle, so unoffensive. My guess is that he was oblivious.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. roseanne333 says:

    When seeing something like this, or when in the car and seeing some particularly asinine (judgmental, me?) driver, I would say to my daughter, “That’s pretty selfish behavior.” So, reading your thoughts, I’m thinking the same….he’s so totally oblivious to others!! And then your post script note! Smacks me right in the face. And deservedly so. I’m appreciative of the thought-provoking challenges you provide, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. So, you’ve met my brother… dirty looks are never enough. Only public shame can get past the chink in the armor. Thanks for stirring it up so beautifully!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. “Excuse me, I’d like to sit down.”

    That’s what I say, and I don’t move until they clear the seat. Done. (Yes, very NY of me.) Given that our commuter ticket prices just went up AGAIN — and God knows, my income has not, in many years — no one hogs a seat on a train I’m in.

    NYC/area is jammed with the Massively Entitled. Whatever. I want to sit down. NOW.


    Liked by 1 person

  21. Christie says:

    Extremely large personal bubble…a different type of man spreading…wonder if a kind, captivating, beautiful, quick witted, early riser blue haired, tiny women reminding him of his mother could have wiggled a seat share? Even though those Ferragamo’s,, graced his feet, at least He didn’t use his case as a breakfast table! The vibe of his presence must have been intimidating..<<<though I try not to assume…he must have a value of thrift holding on to a relic of a case?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Christie says:

    Hi, TY 🙂 should have said thankfully he didn’t use PS: did you get a new suitcase?

    Liked by 1 person

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