Same as yesterday, last month, last Christmas, or five years ago. Same same same as I walk through the entrance of Grand Central. Same flow of human traffic around me, although always different faces. I weave and dodge to the pulse of the earbuds pounding something aggressive. Down my shortcut stairs, across the platform looking both ways to not get hit by a passing garbage cart. I arrive just the same as always to my 5:33 train.
The seat I choose is precisely so. Scientifically proven over the years to be the optimal train riding experience. How can this be, considering that every seat on every train is made of the same pseudo-leather vinyl covering in those familiar shades of maroon and blue, the hues that just make you love the color picking gents of the '70s?
Alas, it is the optimal seat since it usually allows me to be the last person that someone will sit next to in the car. I could make that an absolute—if I only weighed 350 pounds and my belly-hip-thigh flesh hung over into the seat next to me, or if I was covered with dirt and filth and the Saturn ring of fruitflies occupied the seat next to me—but I cannot. I don't yap on the cell; I cross my arms to avoid the War of Elbows, and I never make contact. So you could say that the optimal seat cancels out my common courtesies.
Additionally, from the vantage point of the optimal seat, I observe most of the same people every evening. Much like me, they arrive for the 5:33 after jailbreaking from their 9-to-5. I have found that over the years, while I am always curious to know what it is they do, I resist ever making conversation. Besides the fact that I thoroughly enjoy iPodding while travelling, I find a great distaste for the lifeless 'how-are-the-kids' conversation that most train acquaintances have. Just watch and listen, it's true.
More importantly, I find my imagination much more entertaining in that I invent their identity for them. Who needs to know anyone when you can just make up their life stories?
That when the man in the gray pinstripe suit enters the train, it is his unearthly precision that perfectly tosses his briefcase up top or takes his suit jacket off and neatly folds it over one arm before he sits. I imagine that he runs the acquisitions department of a firm that perfectly dismantles smaller companies into core components. He is the white haired shaman of downsizing, a sonnet of business sense that churns out results until his heart gives up like a marathoner with cramps.