I’ve always described it as one of the most anonymous places in the world. Nobody really knows you, you don’t really have to get to know anyone. Unless you want to that it is. This big city where people treat each other with disdain, contempt, ridicule and suspicion. Well that’s what it feels like most of the time. I do have friends, just not as many as when I lived back home in the countryside.
Nothing encapsulates it more than sitting on the train in the morning. So many people all squeezed into a small place. Avoiding eye contact, flinching at the slightest accidental touch. Staring at the adverts above the person opposite you’s head. I can recite insurance slogans and tell you how much it will cost to go and rent a holiday villa in France by heart. So many people who avoid any interaction. So many stories that could be told but we don’t speak to each other.
Looking around the carriage I can see the suited finance manager. On his way to his job in the city. He probably lives in the suburbs. Hates having to belittle himself by sitting on the train with all of us. His broadsheet newspaper pulled so close to his face he is almost daring you to disturb him. The worry evident on his furrowed brow, wondering to myself what trivial problems could cause such wrinkles.
Further down the carriage is the disheveled man wearing dark trousers, a shirt, a cap and flip flops. A can of beer in his hand. Already started his daily journey around the train system. Having nowhere to go. He talks to himself, muttering maniacally and then cackling to himself, pouring half his can on the floor as his hand shakes with the hilarity of the joke he’s just told himself. Definitely need to avoid eye contact with him.
Standing by the door is the middle aged seen it all before lady. Huff and puffing, rolling her eyes as each person pushes past to get out of the train. The cynicism evident in her eyes. She’s doing this because she has no choice, she’s probably been in her job since leaving school and has no other options. Tired of life, tired of the monotony of her daily life.
I glance at the man sitting next to me. He seems to be doing the same as me, looking at all the people on the train. Thinking about their stories and their lives. He catches me looking at him and laughs. I giggle as we share a knowing look. Perhaps it’s me that’s the cynical one. I have no idea what any of their lives entail. That brief glance, the shared giggle makes my day. Maybe we’re not so anonymous after all.
Feature image originally posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tompagenet/303824827