My friend Jeremy shared on Facebook this sweet story that he agreed to allow me to repost. I think it says a lot about divisions in our society, fear of strangers, our public spaces, and more. As someone who sees how his own scales have become thicker and more jagged the longer he lives in the big bad city, it's a good reminder to see the light in others, wherever I am.
I got on the train yesterday, and there was the usual assortment of people. Mostly black, or white. The typical disdain each had for the other, clearly not wanting to sit next to each other.
The young man in the picture was sitting by himself, and a young white man sat down in the seat to the left, but straddled two seats, not wanting to sit too close. At the next stop, the young woman in the photo sat down next to him.
She got out her sketchbook. There were photos of dresses and birds and other colorful objects pasted inside it, along with her colored pencil sketches next to it. The young man glanced over, very curious about what was in the book. She would catch him out of the corner of her eye, and he would look away.
A few stops into the ride, she asked him a question, presumably having to do with his interest in her art. The conversation started slowly, in fits and starts, but after a minute or two, she was talking about what she had drawn, and was showing him various pages. She seemed to ask if he had any interest in art, and he just smiled, and got a little shy.
Then he opened his backpack and pulled out his own small sketchpad and box of charcoal pencils. Then he pulled out the book she's holding here, "100 Ways to Create Fantasy Figures." Both their faces lit up as she took the book, started flipping through it, and they had a very lively conversation about drawing and art and ultimately…their common interests.
They had some of the biggest smiles I've ever seen by the time I got off at 59th St, and I couldn't help but smile myself.
Two people who before this ride were total strangers, and when they first met, avoided so much as eye contact.
We should all endeavour to be like them. Talk to your neighbors. Regardless of what color their skin might be, what flag they might fly, or how they might dress.
We have more in common than we know.
Such a neat story.
I was recently riding in the subway with my friend Atalanta late at night when we happened to be sitting across from some fairly tipsy girls who were laughing and taking videos of each other. One of them was clearly celebrating her birthday, so Amy wished her a happy birthday. This brought us into a meandering, bizarre but sweet conversation with the drunk girl that is the kind of random and wonderful encounter that awaits you everywhere you go in the city, if you are only open to it.
In related reading, Marshall Evans at the NY Daily News proposes the creation of "conversation cars" on the subway. Who knows, you might find true love… or least someone to date for a few months.
2 thoughts on “Do You Talk To Strangers on the Subway?”
yes i’ve been always traveling in subway, because journey is a long one and if you are alone you’ll be bored in Travel, that’s why when i travel in subway i ll definitely talk with strangers.
No talk strangers. Strangers bad! Talk bad!
Meat good. Mmm… yummy meat. In stew. On rice. With spoon and fork. What are we talking about?