Originally posted to my Facebook notes (2008-09-08). This is one of my favorite commuter stories from my time in NYC.
For those of you who know me very well, you know that I have certain online videos that I will pull up and watch on days when I am in a bad, sad or down kind of mood. I call them my happy spot. For those of you who do not know me well enough to know my happy spots, please watch the following video before continuing any further…
That particular video has brought me happiness on many a bad day (giggling to myself even now, having watched the clip as I type this). As a heads up, this intro will play in to the story so just bear with me and I will eventually get you there.
Ok…also for those of you who know me very well, you know that I have a couple of commuter moods. Just to name a few:
The Angry Commuter (usually my morning mood brought on by the stupidity of others, ask Erin as she is the recipient of my texts begging for her to give me a Chinese star that I can throw at the human forms of stupidity)
The Reading Commuter (when I am able to tune out everything around me, no matter what, to enjoy a good story)
The Snoring Commuter (usually my evening commute after a long day)
The Reflective Commuter (staring out the window daydreaming and really the better of all my moods)
The Reflective Commuter is the commuting mood I was in on my trip home this evening.
Tonight I was catching the 8:08PM LIRR train home. This is the Babylon train with a connector at Jamaica for the Long Beach line (my line). All said and done I would be home no later (including walk from train to house) than 9:15PM. I sat on the train in the 3×2 section. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about please refer to the attached photo:
(Yes I took this photo with my phone camera with the sole intent of blogging about this whole event.) The section there in front of you where three chairs face two chairs is what I refer to as the 3×2 section. Stories are so much funnier with visuals.
So…I was sitting on the “3” side next to the window. And much like this photo there was no one else in the section other than me. I was reflective, looking out the window at the platform and people bustling about getting on the train and making their way home. And, if you must know, I was daydreaming about a boy and had a goofy smile on my face.
Then in skips a young Asian girl. She was around 20-something. She sat down in the two-seater cattycorner to where I was sitting. She looked up, made eye contact and…just like the young Asian man in the Ampd Mobile commercial I just made you watch – his ‘busted’ expression – she looked at me as if I had just poked her and said…’Um HI!” She picked up her backpack and came to my section and PLOPPED down in the middle seat. Yes, the section was empty except for me and she sat in the seat RIGHT NEXT TO ME, arms touching, legs touching right next to me (I have issues with physical contact during my commute when not utterly necessary).
I look at her kind of surprised and giggle to myself, I could not help it. She rambles quickly in her own language. I must have looked perplexed because she stopped, put a hand on my forearm, closes her eyes, looks down and shakes her head while giggling. She looks back up and in a VERY thick accent looks at me and says, “So sorry. I am excited. I have never been on train alone before. So happy to know you.” I am leaning back to give at least five inches of room between her face and my face.
Normally in this situation I go on strict defense and make room, leave or am obnoxious. I know this about myself, most of you know this about me. But this kid was just so f’ing happy it was infectious. No lie, it was. I found myself giggling and I believe that she thought I was happy to know her too. She looks at me, holds up one finger, turns to root through her bag. For one sinking moment the disparager in me made me think that this is where she stabs me with a needle and I wake up in a cheap hotel in a tub full of ice and missing kidney. But no, she turns back around with a cell phone and proceeds to call someone. Again, in her native tongue she speaks with a rapidity that is unparalleled in the English language. In the middle of the conversation she says, ‘No, no, no” then pats me on the arm with a smile. When she finishes the call she explains that she was speaking to her Mother who was afraid for her to travel by herself. BUT, (she says as she is smiling at me with a big doe-eyed expression) I told her I am sitting with my friend.
Wow, just like that I have a new friend. I have no idea her name. I have no idea where she is from. No background. Just happy to know you and bam I am your friend…
The two of us carry on a conversation of sorts. I am animated in hand gestures thinking that in sign language I can explain my words to her and finding that I am talking louder than normal. As if by talking louder and slower she will understand me…ha! I find that she is getting off at Merrick, she has a friend that will be waiting right there for her so she will not be lost. In the dark, she explains, she could get lost easily. Ok. When she finds that I will be leaving her at Jamaica she gets an expression that would make you think that I killed her puppy…
By this time the train is pretty full. A young woman has sat down on the other side of her. This woman has an iPod with a video rolling. My young Asian friend then stops the conversation. And, in an action I can only liken to a pigeon seeing a shiny object – she becomes fixated on the video screen…to the point that her entire left cheek is pressed against the seat and she almost looks like a girlfriend with her head resting on the shoulder of her significant other. This was her stance for the rest of my trip to Jamaica.
Just like that a fancy gadget has pulled my new friend away from me. Oh the drama of it all, the void I felt…lol No, really I was back to being reflective, looking out the window. Now not daydreaming but giggling over this young girl who just burst onto the train and into my bubble. As soon as Jamaica is announced and flashes across the little screen she turns to me and says, “You go here?” I said yes. And as I am getting up to leave she grabs me, hugs me as if I were family, plants a kiss on my cheek and while stroking my forearm says, “Happy to know you.” I am flabbergasted (like that Favela – I used the word you learned today…)
As I stood up straight, still giggling a bit I looked at her and said, “Happy to know you too.” And, you know what? That was pure honesty from me. This complete stranger had jumped with both feet into my existence and without hesitation was happy about life and happy to know me.
So, to my new friend (who I never caught your name)…I hope that Merrick and your friend were found with ease. I hope that you brought that sunshine that is your personality to them and that your evening was filled with as much joy as you displayed in the fifteen minutes I came in contact with you.
And yeah, I am happy to know you too.