I was on the train this past week when I noticed that, in public, people tend to talk about strange things. Of course we all know that people try to bring attention to themselves by what they say in public sometimes, but I heard some pretty interesting variations.
Strangely enough, some people bring attention to themselves by talking about wholly inappropriate topics of conversation in public. This week, there were a man and a woman having a conversation that started with pretty women, moved into adultery, and ended on the subject of strip clubs.?á
For his part the man admitted to attending strip clubs -- but only for the food -- and the woman agreed with him. She basically said not all men who went to strip clubs were looking for TNA. Right.
Enter the miraculousness of human variety.
Later that day, I was eavesdropping on two black women who were having a much more muted conversation. They were talking about their parents, one of whom had passed away, but she made sure to share the fact that her father died knowing that Barack Obama had become president. Apparently he went in and out of consciousness towards the end of his life, but he knew a black man was president. The joy with which this woman shared the story was remarkable.?á
Then there are the young men talking about getting "messed up" over the weekend. I wonder sometimes what motivates us in our interactions with each other.?á
Once you start riding the Metro, you join a group of "regulars." There's the tall woman with the great fashion sense, the Asian couple that always sits together, the doctor who always reads the newspaper, the lactating woman and her breast pump. Even though we know each other, we don't know each other, we never even talk, and yet these strangers feel compelled to use their outside voices to talk about their intimate memories.?á
Does the public space of the Metro feel private to them? Do they even care?
It's impossible to me that they don't know that everyone else will hear them, that others will not judge their conversations one way or another.?á So why do it? It could be just one of the mysteries of the Metro, one more element of its intrigue, or it could be that these people, in their own ways, are trying to reach out to the other regulars. To anybody.?á
The Metro does that for you, gives you a chance to know people, even if you don't know them.