A sullen girl wearing a school uniform gets in. She receives a phone call from her mother. By the time it is, she is probably wondering where’s her precious daughter. With resentment, the girl slides her finger to the left. Mum does not understand who I am, she thinks. If she had a boyfriend like mine at my age, she would’ve cared. But she was a loser, just like pathetic Mary from my English Literature class. I will surely never be like her. I am different.
A tall, 30-something fellow comes in, carrying Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking book. Doesn’t look pleased to be where he is. Nobody in the tube at this hour is happy to be where they are- they either stayed working late or got into a fight with someone home. Not late enough for hangovers, though. He stands up in South Kensington, already reaching for a pack of Parliaments and his cheap Bic lighter. I’m too stressed right now. It will be just this one, I can get back on track tomorrow morning.
Hyde Park Corner
A blue-eyed woman in her late 20’s, wearing all-black clothes, stares at the poem Daddy, by Sylvia Plath, printed on a thick poetry book, while listening to The Smiths. She is thinking about her estranged father, whom she probably despises. She looks like a lawyer, probably a solicitor, and a rather successful one, considering her age. While thinking of her father, she remembers of the date she has tonight, with a fascinating man she met at the office. Is he the one? I hope he is. I hope that if we get married, our marriage will be different than my parent’s. I hope I am not like all other women with bad fathers that later pick out bad husbands. She gets out in Piccadilly Circus. Probably lives in Shaftesbury Avenue.
A man, with an executive feel to him, stares at his wedding ring, while taking it off and putting it back on. He remembers of his first girlfriend, and wonders if she still has the light spirits of a 14 year old. Don’t be stupid, Graham. She is 64 now, how could she be the same way. She is probably as boring as your wife. Marilla was fun in college, too. Look how she turned out. He receives a call from a young woman, as I can see on the call identifier picture. Sally is beautiful. I wish I still had the looks to go out with a woman like that. She is probably his secretary. Both of us get out of the train several stations later.
A teenager with an insouciant face carries a bunch of destroyed books. He doesn’t look like a good student. He is focused on getting to the house of the girl he is attracted to. He has the looks of a kid spoiled by his mother. His father probably left them. If his father lived with him, he’d have told the kid he also had to shave that part of the face just over the neck. I hope Isla will like this. I am sure she will leave her Welsh boyfriend to be with me. I know some cool places I can take her. I wonder where that idiot with the stupid mohawk takes her. Just be cool, Matthew. You’ll sweep her of her feet. Lewis told you so, and he’s got deep knowledge of the inner workings of the female mind.
A young woman with completely fake orange hair gets in. She is wearing all-white clothing, probably the assistant of a dentist. She is utterly bored by her job, but likes her fiancée, who proposed only a few days ago, by the dreamy face with which she looks at her right hand. Katie will be so jealous, her boyfriend didn’t even buy her a real diamond ring. Mine did, ‘cos he’s perfect. She gets out later, on Holloway Road.
While the dentist’s assistant stares at her ring, a girl besides me stares at her with a hostile expression. She is carrying self-help books. Her boyfriend probably broke up with her, and her boss is a knob. Look at that stupid little kid. She sincerely thinks that diamond is real. Her boyfriend probably bought it for five quid at the local market. There are people that choose to be stupid, really. I don’t see the moment where she leaves.
The train gets packed for some reason. Meanwhile, I observe a blonde girl reading a Bridget Jones book. She looks like a typical woman. She is not delusional, and likes her life as it is. Meanwhile, she observes self-help lady ranting in her head about the life of an insignificant 22 year old. Our eyes meet. We look at each other, and see in each other a halo only observant people can notice on each other. However, we both realize that reading through people that like to read through people is against the writer’s etiquette. Observing is a one-way street, really. And so she starts staring at someone else.
Meanwhile, the voice that announces the stations on the tube calls out for Finsbury Park, my station. While trying to get out, I realize people are getting out of my way, just to let me resume my life after this several minute interruption of commuting, just like I did with others that got out before me.
Public transport is the moment we realize we belong on earth, even if the only thing we, humans, have in common are our biology and those brief moments between one station and another.