Monday, June 05, 2006

Misadventures on the Metro

chapter 10
I’ve become one of “them.” I don’t know if “they” entered my brain through osmosis or if I’ve been unknowingly subjected to subliminal messages.

Either way, it’s done. In retrospect, I’ve felt a subconscious paradigm shift during the past few months. But I thought my resolve was deeply rooted. I thought I was immune to “their” influence.

This morning, reality ran me over like a speeding freight truck as I tried, unsuccessfully, to endure my morning reading routine on the Metro. Although the seats were filled and I was standing, I found myself swept away in the 19th century romance of my novel – English countryside, long gowns, proper diction. I mentally mimicked the character’s accents and mannerisms, blissfully disconnected from the real world.

F
requently, when people enter or exit the train, I peek over the pages of my book to skim my surroundings. And even today, though I was mentally sunning on a faraway island, I automatically glanced up a few times. At the third of seven stops on my trek to work, three intern-age girls boarded the train.

Just as I diverted my eyes down after a quick scan, one of the girls grabbed the poll I was holding and stood directly in front of me, forcing me from my stable spot. Annoyed, but not altogether surprised given the frequency of this type of Metro conduct, I moved back and white-knuckled a lower, less stable horizontal bar on the seat beside me.

Then, as if the train wasn’t full of silent strangers, the three commenced loud, annoying girl talk. The ringleader who usurped my spot must have been perfecting her stand-up routine while the others practiced their high-pitched girlish giggles. I read two or three pages, which I will have to re-read tonight on my commute, before realizing my attempts to concentrate on anything other than the three distractions were fruitless.

I shut my book and unleashed a hole-burning, crusty stare in their direction. I also let out a few over-emphasized sighs to be sure they understood the degree of my disapproval.

They didn’t notice.

But my behavior forced me to confront my personal belief system. Three months ago I would have smiled, wished they would be quiet and ignored them. Now, even though it’s been six hours, I’m still annoyed. Don’t they get the “no talking” rule? Look around, girls, you’re the only ones gabbing!

Yikes. It’s true. I’m one of them – impatient, grumpy, falling prey to the unpublished Metro guidelines. I’ve become the very person at which I formerly rolled my eyes and silently mocked. Honestly, the Metro is not a morgue or a funeral home or a church. You can talk all you want.

Well, you can talk, but you’d better not force me from my spot or interrupt my book. Got that?

2 comments:

Dan said...

Welcome to the East Coast, my friend! Pretty soon you'll start noticing other changes as well (and I'm not just talking about the shorter fuse you'll develop). You can look forward to yelling at other drivers, honking your horn for a .0003 second delay in someone reacting to a green light, and other, more disturbing personality changes. I'm talking about the hardened scowl, the "I'll knock you over if you stop walking in front of me without moving" reflex and of course, the loathing you'll develop for your friends who are from your former, friendly western states. Ah, enjoy. I've had 9 years to turn from the happy San Diegan to the specimen you see now.

Rachel said...

haha!! Love it! i wish I could have been a fly on the wall and just laughed. I'm sure when I was in D.C. people hated me - but at least I walked to work and just took the metro at night - and occasionally my friends would pole dance? UH OH! I love YOU!