Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Strangers on a Train

I had a fascinating conversation on the train home from the Big City yesterday.

As a regular commuter, there are friends you make along the way, compatriots of a sort. And then there are times when you ride with a car filled with people you've not seen or met before. Sometimes it's nice to chat, sometimes I spend the time catching up on reading and sometimes it's nice to listen to my iPod.

Last night, I didn't see one person I normally encounter on my ride home, and proceeded to play games on my iPad to kill the long ride home. As I neared my stop, I moved from the upper berth to the lower (my stop is near the end of the line, and by the time I'm close, the lower berth has cleared considerably). Sitting closer to the doors, a man came and sat near me and started to talk. He told me he was training for a marathon and showed me his "necklace," a medal which was somewhat battered. My impression of the man was that he wasn't quite on the same path as the rest of us. A man of color who was blind in one eye and wearing tattered clothes, he went on to tell me his training ritual and told me I should run a marathon.

Something about me - I don't run. I DO participate in 5K races and normally walk (very fast). I did one 5K with my son during which I ran part of the way, but I still wasn't going to break any speed records. I can't get the breathing down and I'm not as young as I used to be (there are physical limitations I didn't have when I was younger).

Anyway, I shared with this man that I participated in 5Ks and he asked if I'd won.  Ha Ha!  Nope. And then he told me how I should be training. How I should train for a marathon. That I should lose some weight! Imagine a complete stranger telling me how to live my life! No, I wasn't offended. He doesn't know me any better than I know him. I don't know his life's journey any more than he knows mine. It was a pleasant, ten minute conversation at the end of the run.

Most people hide behind their iPod or their computers or some other means of personal entertainment while they ride the train. I'm guilty of that some of the time as well. As a "not highly social" sort, I'm not always comfortable talking to strangers, and yet there are days I enjoy a little conversation to make the ride go by faster. It's an interesting insight into different personalities, some of them very like your own and some of them very different.

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