Thursday, 29 September 2011

The wet commute.

Faces on the train this morning were filled with misery.  They matched the weather as they tried to get on the train without getting wet.  Once inside their wet umbrellas were held as though they contained fresh vomit.  The air smelt like wet dogs mixed with mothballs. The windows were foggy as 120 people exhaled.  And inhaled.  How long can I hold my breath for? I wondered.

I found a seat, sat down and travelled facing backwards.  The man beside me looked me over and shut his eyes again.  He had ear buds on, but unusually, whatever he was listening to wasn't so loud it bled through into my aural space. Perhaps he had nothing playing and just wore the ear buds to deflect interaction. I'd choose bigger, more visible, gigantic headphones if I was him.

In the group of four seats in front of me sat a girl dressed in a brown and dusty pink poncho.  She had long nothing coloured hair. Sad blue eyes. Her freckled complexion matched her poncho.  Occasionally she bit her lip, but mostly she just stared, looking like she was on the brink of tears.  Her eyes had welled and stopped there.  She didn't seem to blink.  Her arms were tightly folded.  Her forehead rested against the window. Our eyes met once or twice and she just looked away. I wanted to ask her what was wrong.  It looked like something terrible had happened. Or was about to happen.

Further down the carriage stood a man and a woman; the man with his back to me.  I could see the woman's face, looking up, fully and joyfully into the man's face.  He stood holding a railing with his left hand while his right hand lent on the handle of a white golf umbrella.  Her eyes didn't wander from his face.  Her hand touched his umbrella hand every so often.  They were talking - rather, he was talking.  She was really listening. Even from half a carriage away, I could see that see was listening.

They parted company at Southern Cross Station without a wave, let alone a kiss.  I was surprised. He left her the umbrella.

Riding the escalator up to the concourse, I studied the backside of the woman in front of me.  It was wedged into unflattering black pants.  It jiggled as her foot tapped, presumably in time to the music coming through her ear buds.  Her scalp was flaking onto her black jacket and her blond highlights had turned to a faded shade of spray tan orange. She carried an oversized, cheap grey handbag, ugly, but functional. Her ticket didn't work at the exit gates.  The last I saw, she was speaking to the ticket inspectors.

I reached the outside of the station and waited for the traffic lights to let me cross the street.  I hate crossing the street at this particular intersection during peak hour.  There are so many people dragging wheeled luggage  behind them, worse than back pack carriers in their oblivion of the size of their footprint and their turning circle.  Give them a mobile phone and they've got their heads down and aren't even looking where they are going anymore.

Then I received a text message and put my own head down to read it.  It was one of those life changing messages that I usually receive on email.  It read: "Nokia celebrates 40yrs. Your Mobile Number has won 900,000 pounds in the Nokia Awards..." Then there was a claim code and an email address so I could claim my prize.

I haven't sent the email yet.  I'm too busy, celebrating making it home in one piece.  Then I'll plan my shopping list.

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