what one smile can do on a crowded train.

i was on the F train heading for Soho for business this
afternoon. my normal routine, much like most others when
they’re on the subway is to plug into my iPod and tune
everything out to a degree. (i’m not a fan of being so
oblivious using mass transit.) the ride is smooth, the
car’s not too crowded and the air conditioning is set on
‘frosty’. we get to the Queensbridge station and this one
woman gets on the train and sits across from me. i think
nothing of it and get back into my book.

after a few minutes though, i look up from my book and
see her head down. her shoulders were shivering slightly.
her sunglasses were askew. she was crying. not loudly,
not fully. but she was weeping. just as quickly, she
shrugged it off. she wore a white t-shirt and glossy
black gym shorts. nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
she was a well-put together sister. i went back to my
book. after another minute, i looked up and saw her begin
to sob again. she had her iPod on. i looked at her. and
i smiled. and mouthed, ‘you’ll be okay.’ i didn’t get
up because i’m sure she chose that part of the train so
she wouldn’t make a scene. she cleared up a bit, nodded.
and for the rest of the ride, she was calmer.

i don’t know what she was upset about. maybe she had an
argument before she got on the subway. maybe she was
being harassed. maybe she had recently lost her job. a
loved one could have passed. i think the most important
thing here is, in some way, i let her know she wasn’t
alone. it is so easy to be indifferent in this day and
age. especially in a large city like New York City. last
i checked, you’re supposed to have compassion for your
neighbor. and it isn’t based solely on convenience. it
made me feel a little bit better. and i hope it eased
her turmoil a bit too.

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disoriented express

it wasn’t the chill
from the patterned glass
her hand rested on
that made her uneasy
or the blanket of night
that slung itself around her shoulders
it wasn’t even the fact that it had been
a good half-hour since the train had hollered
through the dusk
it was the hand
of the gentleman who stared at her
all through dinner with a cigarette in his lips
and the musk of lust on his brow
resting on the window of her compartment door
that made her heart beat that much faster now