Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stories from the train

I was riding the train in to school the other morning, and I didn't have my i-Pod. That's not entirely unusual, but for some reason, it felt odd not to have music blaring in my ears as I rode to campus. It felt intentional. I needed some time with my thoughts. As the train rumbled its way north, I noticed that most of the other passengers had earbuds in their ears. At 8:30 in the morning, most of the people taking the subway are students on the way to school and young adults trekking it to their office jobs from their South City walk-ups. That may be the reason for the proliferation in mp3 players.

Whatever the reason, it was creepy in a way I wouldn't have noticed if I weren't without my own morning playlist. Every ear-budded person was staring vacantly into the tunnel darkness from their little bright orange seats. I thought about Central America and all the chicken buses I rode when I was down there. I thought about what it was like 10 years ago when I worked my first commuting job in DC and rode the Metro in the mornings. I wondered whether the benefits of a middle class and improved technology all amount to this: 50 strangers in a car, each in their own little world, silent and day dreaming until the moment they have to wake up.


Other interesting things happen on the morning communte, though. A couple days ago I was cramming for corporations while I waited in for the train with all the other tired suckers. Even though I've slacked to the point that I don't even highlight with one color this semester, I happened to have saved my spot in the assignment with a pink Bic. Feeling ambitious, I immediately highlighted the Defendant's relationship (majority shareholder and sole director) to the Plaintiff (minority shareholder). For some reason, I've actually enjoyed corporations. Oddly, I think it's because my professor yells at us all and makes us laugh at one anothers expense.

"It's never too late to read for class," I heard someone say. Looking up, I expected to see one of my classmates, some other law student on their way to a day of drudgery and schlepdom. Instead, I was face to face with Mr. Socratic Method himself.

"Noooooooooo!" I said. Seriously. That's what I said. Then, ever quick to recover, I added, "I was just reviewing."

He looked down at me with a mix of pity and (did I detect it?) sadistic amusement. "Oh, right," he laughed, lightly. "With a highlighter."

It was exactly at that point that the train arrived, and we rode up to campus seated across from one another in what could have been one of the most awkward 11 minutes of my life. Thankfully, I really did have to read, so I just kept at it. As the train pulled to our stop, we stood up.

"That's a hard case," he remarked skeptically, as I snapped the casebook shut.

"It seemed to make sense," I shrugged a little too smugly.

"They always do when you read them."

Why he didn't call on me in class an hour later is a mystery I will probably never solve.


In the last week, which isn't over, might I remind you, I seen no less than three people reading little miniature Bibles on the train. I've stopped reading the New Testament at night before bed. I've stopped reading it all together, even though I'm over halfway done. I fell out of the habit over the holidays. Maybe I should carry my King James with me on my morning commute. See if that doesn't ward off evil spirits.

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