In order to give you a more complete context for this awareness (It finally happened!) I feel it imperative to share my recollections of train commuting for the first time. Like a young child on the first day of school, I woke with similar excitement and anticipation...My first train ride into downtown Chicago. Would it be difficult? Would it be scary? Would I get off at the correct stop? How would I know where to purchase a ticket? Are there assigned seats? Where would I place my Superman lunchbox? (oh, wait! that was my first day of school...oops) I eagerly await the option to be around other people heading off to the day's adventures in working.
This being my first train ride I had one serious decision to make...sit on the two person benches (on the main floor) OR head up to the second level taking advantage of an single-file row of individual seats. Doors open...Like any good extrovert, I chose to welcome the company of another commuter by sitting on the first open bench. Doors close. And we're off. I look around at the many surrounding comrades and the picturesque scenery racing by my window. A couple of stops later the crowd is growing. Finally another human to share my bench with. As the middle-aged woman sat down, my mind flooded with questions: How has your day been so far? Did you get dropped off or did you park in the lot? Where are you off to? Where do you work? What do you do there? Do you enjoy what you do? How is the overall work environment? Would you say that you are generally happy with life? Tell me about your family and the people who have influenced you most in life! Taking back control of my mind I said, "Good morning". She responded likewise. My excitement was building quickly. She responded so quickly and politely. She must be a nice person. I wonder what her story is. (turning a bit to more properly address her I confidently said, "Hi, My name is Ryan."
(insert ridiculously uncomfortable and awkward silence here)
...nothing. No response, no sigh, no hiccup, no look...nothing...REALLY?! Nothing? Yes, Nothing! How can you be sitting within a foot of someone, shoulders touching, sharing the same air and NOT respond when they politely introduce them self? I took the LESS THAN subtle hint and turned, faced out the window, with a face exuding my crush spirit (imagine a small child hearing for the first time that Santa is a sham). Crushing. And that is when it started...
Fast-Forward to today. (remember I am just sitting in my seat ready to begin my hour+ journey to work)
It started like any other Wednesday...overwhelmed by the piercing sound of a reoccurring alarm (Could it be that God actually created the snooze button? Theologically, I'm leaning in that direction.), a rudely-awakening shower, dressing in the dark, mass quantities of hot black coffee, and then a trek into the city: via the trusty (and often delayed) Metra rail system. I wait like the rest of the lemmings for the doors to open, allowing us to mindlessly step into the over sized transporter. Like clockwork I step up, head to the second level and take my rightful seat of solitude and silence. Armed with my mp3 player I effortlessly fall into my commuting coma.
Then suddenly and without warning or provoking it happened. A gentle man (mid 60's) began to share his concerns on the current economy. While his rants were not directed toward me, I was within a 1/4 mile and was clearly able to hear him spout off about the sad leadership and future prospects in our world. It is not that I agreed or for that matter disagreed with his assessments. In fact, it did not matter what he was talking about. The real point is...Why would anyone at that time of the morning, and in such a confined space...talk? Not even loudly...just talk. I mean really...clearly this man did not realize that when you enter through those sacred steel doors, you dwell in a world of impersonal, flat-affect drones...the Chicago work-force of today's economy.
And THEN "It Happened!" A flash back to my first train ride...remembering my-"Santa isn't real?"-face, showing my disgust and heartache over the state of "those people" who are so calloused in their selfish, self absorbed world.
How do people become like that?...you tell me.