Sunday, 13 March 2011

Thoughts on a train

This is the first post I've ever done that isn't commenting on something else. On someone else's work or life. I imagined it as a short story and it's sort of turned into something else.  Anyway, enjoy!

I hate trains.  Well that’s unfair. I hate little trains.  Crappy commuter trains where your journey is too long to stand up but too short to have a good read or get comfy. 

Big trains that go on a big journey are great.  They’re exciting.  A journey where it’s acceptable to take off your shoes is the kind I like. 

Every now and then though on these small journeys you spot things.  You don’t mean to. You’re not being nosy or listening to people o purpose, they just stick out.  Things that intrigue you.  Things that make you smile or even worry. 

Like the girl sobbing quietly into her phone to her mum.  Apologising for some unarticulated wrong.   That stays with you.  Did they make up quickly, or at all? Who made the first step? 

Then there are the things you spot when you’re not even trying.  The guy in the seat in front watching home-made porn on his phone because there’s no one next to him, so nobody can see right?  How would the girl in the video feel if she knew I’d seen any of it?  You try to ignore it but it’s right there. 

And the details you can learn about people without even trying… the woman next to me is texting.  Her phone has a massive screen and she’s texting someone called Ian Porter (work).  I didn’t read the message I promise.  I just happened to see it and caught the gist.  Meet me at the station blah blah blah.  Next time the phone caught my eye the woman was looking at her profile on Facebook.  There she was in her photo in a wedding dress.  Her name at the top was Sophie Porter.  Porter?  I’ve just seen that name.  Is Ian her husband?  He could be her brother except the (work) detail on her message would make no sense.  It could be a coincidence.  They just happen to have the same name.  But no.  That’s not a good story.  They met at work and fell in love and got married.  In my head that makes sense and in a couple of accidental glances at a stranger on a train I’ve figured out part of someone’s life.  An important part.

I’ve just realised that this isn’t really a story.  But these are the things that form them. It’s a collection of beginnings, middles and endings that make up our daily lives. To the people involved these aren’t interesting things; they’re just life. A little moment in their day which is completely ordinary. For me though they’re fascinating. A snapshot of who these people are. I wonder if people look at me on the train and see a small, brief window into my life. I wonder what they’d think.