As most people know, public transportation is a great place for people watching. In my opinion it is second only to the Mall of America. But, the difference is normally people watching happens as the people pass you. On public transportation, you are somewhat trapped in a moving corridor together; giving you more exposure to the person, rather than just getting a chuckle out of their ill-fitting mom jeans. At the risk of moving slightly towards stalker territory, being confined in the public transportation vessel, there is more opportunity to analyze someone’s behavior and create a strange anonymous connection to them.
For example, on an early Friday afternoon, I was finished with class for the weekend and on my way home, when a woman entered the train crying. She was probably late twenties to early thirties, dressed in business casual attire. My initial reaction was to stare, mainly because how unusual this was. Not that crying is unusual, but for a seemingly put together woman to be crying in public caught me off guard.
As the seconds ticked away, her tears turned a bit more hysterical. The tears come down even quicker, her shoulders started to shake, her chin quivered more ferociously in attempt to hold it back. Eventually her crying became a quite sob.
I was quietly watching the woman, and I couldn’t help but feel badly for her. I couldn’t imagine what terrible thing could make this woman cry. So, in attempt to not stare at the poor woman like everyone else in close proximity, I looked out the window and came up with reasons why she might be crying. At the top of my list, based on her clothes, was that she was just fired. The second was she has just received terrible news about a family member, because of the way she was clutching her phone.
A phone rang interrupting my thought process. I heard the woman mumble out a shaky, “Hi mom.”
Then she started telling her mother what I can only assume would be the reason behind the sobs. She explained that the dog was barking, and John, (again assuming, this is her significant other) let her outside. The dog had seen a squirrel and chased it across the street running in front of a bus and got crushed.
Although I have never had a pet, or ever had a real desire to get one, I still felt incredibly awful for this stranger, probably because the pain was so evident in her voice, and pain is definitely one thing that everyone has had to experience at one point or another in their life.