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Retro Week: Commuting Suicide

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I promised to ramp up my tales of Commuting Suicide. I've failed. Maybe I've become too good a commuter – too good at blocking out my inane fellow travelers, too good at keeping myself entertained. When I'm ready to relaunch this semi-regular feature, my notebook is full of moderately amusing observations (and, in case I find myself pen-less, I started a Twitter account to text myself reminders.)

But I'm proud of a few past installments, including "The Conversationalist," which I actually read during a job interview to a slightly puzzled crowd.

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Ideally, I ride out the ride home without anyone beside me. Less-than-ideally, I'm joined by a silent seatmate. Then there's the third option.

That third option was exercised last night. I shared my commute with a devout conversationalist.

Before we'd even left Port Authority, he'd already shaken my hand. A strange, two-handed shake our seating arrangement should have deemed both socially inappropriate and physically impossible. I learned his wife's name. Her employer. Their internet service provider. It was all happening so fast and furiously.

His frustratingly ambiguous intentions left me baffled. Was he trying to sell me something? An upstart religion, perhaps. Or cutlery.

Halfway through the Lincoln Tunnel, my new best friend whipped out his wallet and produced a business card. He bestowed it on me, slowly extending the rectangular paper like a priest with the Body of Christ.

To a veteran commuter like myself (20 months of dedicated service), this was completely out of line. The commuting equivalent of telling a blind date you love her over appetizers, then removing her bra with your teeth. We're all strangers. The unwritten rule says it should stay that way. You can be polite, even chatty. But I don't need your work cell, and you're not getting my fax number.

The Conversationalist is a Senior Analyst, I learned, a title as mysterious as the motive behind his uninspired ramblings. As I studied his company's logo, I decided this wouldn't be an exchange. He was the kind of guy who'd call me hours later to see if I got home OK. Someone who'd save me a seat and bring me strange food.

I ran out the clock on the night's journey, offering lots of nods and a healthy dose of forced laughter. I didn't see my new best friend today.

Maybe we don't have to move.

(Flash back forward: In case you were wondering, I got the job.)

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1 Comment

I, for one, look forward to the return. These are always entertaining reading.

said Jellio on May 30, 2007 8:22 AM.
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