Things I Want To Say To The People On The Subway


Thank you, Music Man. Normally, I would call you a douche bag for blasting your music so incredibly loud that the entire train car can hear what you’re listening to, but today was a long day. Today was one of those days that made me question whether or not my life was passing me by. That one day I might wake up to go to work, and suddenly, ten years would’ve passed me by, and I won’t have any idea what happened to the boy that wanted to ‘change the world.’ Hearing Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at a volume that makes me question the long term endurance of your ear buds rejuvenated me for just a moment. It made me feel pride in my country, and it made me remember that no one should be able to question or condemn our choices to make us happy — even if we are disturbing other people on the subway. More often than not, I will look at you with rage, but today, I give you a fist bump.”

Where are you going with that enormous suitcase? Since your monstrosity of a suitcase has a perfectly minted white tag that says “SFO to JFK” it looks like you’re a new resident to one of the greatest cities on Earth. So, what brought you here? Has this always been part of your post-undergrad plan or did you decide one day to pack up your whole life and move out here to figure out what you want to be? Did you watch too many movies and fall madly in love with an idea of what the Big Apple could be like? If so, what movies were they and has the harsh reality smashed through that fragile image like a wrecking ball through glass? Because behind all of the bright lights, great theater, and beautiful sites [and people], New York will bleed your bank account till there’s not a drop of liquid left, and unless you have an immense amount of determination, it will take all of your hopes and dreams, kick you out when your year lease is done, and fill your spot with the next bright-eyed, eager twentysomething looking to ‘make it big.'”

You are wonderful. Judging from the sand pail, shovel, and neon green beach towel, you probably just took your boy to Coney Island. Also, since it’s now 7 p.m. and your son’s head is resting on your lap, you probably spent the entire day running around and doing whatever you could to make him happy, and the fact that you’re still doing your best to keep your eyes open so the two of you won’t miss your stop is absolutely amazing. I want to give you a hug and a medal and tell you that these are the moments you and your son will cherish forever, and that when he’s older and he argues with you and tells you, rather hastily, that he hates you, he will, in fact, always love you for taking him to the beach and building sand castles.”

What’s your story? I don’t really care about your name, age, religion, race, or anything that you might think I would care about unless it’s actually relevant to your story. I really want to know who the person is behind the Kindle-reading, iPad-checking, music-listening wall that we’ve all consciously created so that no one bothers us. No judgment! I do it too, but I’m trying something new and maybe you could give me your story and tell me what brought you to this subway stop at this very moment? Why did you pick the seat that you picked? What music are you listening to? Why do you — or rather, why does society — feel that it’s necessary to build walls to be left alone? Do you think that the world would be a better place if we looked up from what we were doing and smiled at each other, or read the signs above the seats that said ‘Priority for Handicapped’ and actually followed them? Do you think that if we just put down our eReaders, unplugged our iPods, and saw the world around us that we would see beautiful people that have amazing stories to tell but are too jaded to even give just an inch of who they are to another person in fear of being vulnerable? And do you think that if we just shared a fraction of who we are, where we’re going, or where we’ve been that maybe we can see how we all struggle, how we all have bills to pay, and how we all are, in some form or another, looking for happiness? And do you think that if we could just begin this journey with a simple ‘Hello’ that maybe the world might be a better place? Or are you just really tired and want to be left alone?”

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image – Nate Robert