It’s getting easier and easier to convince the people at my subway stop in the morning to move into the center of the train. I think it’s because they’re beginning to anticipate my quotidian plea of, “Hey, if you skootch in a little bit we can all get on the train.” (Also notice that my approach has softened; you catch more flies with honey.) One morning a young girl, I’d guess high school, was trapped in the substibule and the doors kept closing on her. She was obviously being squeezed mercilessly by those people around her who refused to give her an inch. I was already in the center of the train where there is plenty of room, but there was little I can do. She looked towards me plaintively with the kind of shrug that says, “Hey, can you help?” I guess she recognized me from my past efforts, so I did my best; I cajoled and pleaded, but that morning the crowd was unmovable. As we pulled away, my shrug said “sorry”; she nodded as if to say “thanks for trying” back to me.
Another morning on the subway and I’m standing near-ish to the door and people are pressing up against me. I hold my ground as people crush around me. Someone said (reminding me much of myself), “Hey, can you move in? There’s space right next to you.” I’m about to say “sure”, but as I look to my right I realize that there is someone right next to be doing the same thing: holding onto the next pole over and creating a wall against the crowd pressing against him as well. I realize that we had made a little pocket of space, without realizing, with plenty of usable room inside. Oblivious to the push and pull of commuters, were two eight-year old girls playing Cat’s Cradle*. Far too precious for us to drop our guard and allow their game to get interrupted, because they were on the verge of mastering “pinkies” and that works as kryptonite to even the most jaded commuter.
*Thank you, Ophe