Riding Metro North. With Four.

5:40 am train.

Full.  How can this be possible?

I stand in the vestibule, irritated, and then remember that the 5:40 am train is a Peak train, and further remember that I’m paying a Peak Fare rate to Stand. Irritated.

I set my bag down on the muddy floor, irritated, and wait, hoping for someone to get off at the one and only stop on the express train to Grand Central.

I see a commuter to my right zipping up his backpack. I grab my briefcase, block the aisle (and the commuter who is waiting on the other side of the vestibule) and grab the open seat.  Commuter code: You snooze, you lose. Smiling. I’ve become a New Yorker.

I pull down the bench, a handicapped seat which flips up.  There’s an awkward shifting of knees and legs to avoid all contact. There will be no man-touching.

Two men across from me. Two men to my right. And me.

  • Sleeping. Reading. Reading. Sleeping. Reading.
  • iPhone. iPhone. iPhone. Not visible. iPhone.
  • Earbuds. Earbuds. None. None. None.
  • Sneakers. Loafers. Lace up. Sneakers. Lace up.
  • Baseball cap. Balding. Full head of hair. Hoodie. Balding.
  • Backpack. None.  Backpack. Backpack. Briefcase.
  • No watch. No watch. Wristwatch. Unknown. Smartwatch.
  • T-shirt. Business casual. Suit. Jeans. Suit.
  • Nails (grimy). Nail biter. Manicured. Unknown. Nail biter.

The train car is silent but for the rocking of the car on rails.

We pull into Grand Central and exit without an acknowledgement of the other.

4 head right. I head left.

I walk alone, down the tunnels, with the sound of my footfall on concrete and with Patricia Hampl (again).

“There may be no more solitary location in America than a New York subway—take a look at the faces of those commuters, their heads bent to their open books like monks at their breviaries, little glowing screens casting an otherworldly aura onto their intent faces. They are elsewhere. They are alone. Alone with words as much as any writer at a notebook or screen.”



  1. Alone in a crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alone together. name of an old dave mason album.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No matter who I meet, or who I am counselling, what I hear all the time, is that everyone longs to feel loved and connected. The New York subway is way off that spectrum ha!! 😩

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I miss taking the bus/train to work with all my being…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alone, and yet…perhaps not lonely – united by a desire to be at a destination, silently commiserating as they read, daydream, listen to music…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How was if before? …or what would you like to be, dear David?…. People seem living together but as if all of them are from another world, galaxy, etc. I feel this for such a long time… Alone means to go far from each of us… Sometimes I watch and say to myself, where I am and who are all these people?

    Thank you, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How was it before? …or what would you like it to be, dear David?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Same on all commutes in this world. The masses, same same but different.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Shouldn’t that first defining line have been “Sleeping. Reading. Reading. Sleeping. Scrutinizing”? 🙂 Love your observations…always.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The fifth man in the row. Definitely a New Yorker from the Canadian forests.


  11. You bite your nails?
    I agree with “Radiatingblossom” – only I would have said, Fifth man – preparing yet another cool observational blog post… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I give you a ‘like’ for your writing and a ‘thumbs down’ for the daily grind you observed which makes me sad.
    One with a briefcase…. nail biter…. balding…. How come a strong picture is forming in my mind?
    Thank you – and thanks to heaven for my ‘realitvely happy bubble’ ensconing me here – I don’t need a NYC life. This just made me extra content 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Christie says:

    …”without an acknowledgement of the other”…I think that you were riding in the quite car?
    I always figure that people don’t want to be vulnerable since making contact via of eye glances can expose the soul…/// and then I think of the men at the gym and how fast they turn their, respective, heads when I catch them staring and I dress very modestly, baggy jeans long sleeve baggy shirt and hiking boots (since I have spinal cord nerve damage to the feet I need that stability) rising to the top of the stairs to be greeted by Mr. eye brow raiser who got my steely look, of you are rude & not gentlemanly …there are times to zone out and times engage…and the times when I do engage others I come away richer for the experience…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. How people deal with overwhelm, perhaps?


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