People Watching on the Train

One of my favourite things to do while travelling with work is watch the world go by. The never ending streams of people leaving one train, and boarding another at the big stations is fascinating. I can’t help seeing all the people as pieces of a huge jigsaw – a computer program that runs the world. We’re all going somewhere, all doing something. We’re all from somewhere – with family, friends, interests, jobs… and yet here we all are, fitting in with everybody else for a few moments to queue for train doors, to climb escalators, to buy coffee, to pass through turnstiles.

Moments before leaving the intial station on my journey home, a pretty Asian woman ran for a train that had just closed it’s doors. The doors didn’t work – there is a mandatory lock-down moments before trains depart – she stood on the platform gasping for breath, and slapped her hands on her knees theatrically – smiling as she did so.

During the first leg of the journey I sat next to a small Indian man, who appeared to be very good at typing on his phone – certainly better than me. In front of us – facing away – sat a man with very short hair. Through the gap in the seats I could see he was reading a Bill Bryson book – or rather destroying a Bill Bryson book. Granted it was only a paperback, but he had folded it back on itself to hold in one hand – no doubt destroying the binding in the process. Why do people do that? Why spend the money on a book, and then treat it like something disposable? I have books on the shelf at home from my late teens.

Along the way I changed trains several times, and found myself smiling as a pretty “city” lady ran for the train I was waiting to leave on. At the last moment she realised it wasn’t her train, and skidded to a halt – very gracefully – before wandering over to the information panels to find out what might have happened to the train she had been expecting.

Finally, on the last leg of my journey home, I busied myself with looking at my phone. If I looked up, the sportswoman on a seat several rows ahead of me – facing me – was… how do we put this? Distracting? She sat, engrossed in her phone, with her legs relaxed, flopped wide open. I can’t tell you any more than that, because I didn’t look. I wanted to, but I didn’t. It reminded me of the time I was commuting to London on the early train, and a businesswoman fell asleep in front of me – essentially doing the same thing – the story is somewhere in the depths of this blog. I sat for ten minutes wondering if to cover her modesty with a newspaper, before she woke with a start and adjusted herself.

Anyway. Home in one piece. Washing up done. Bag packed for tomorrow. Three nights in a hotel ahead – not before five hours aboard trains though. Five hours watching the world go by, and recording the mundane.

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