Voyeur


Perhaps it’s a sick hobby, but I adore people-watching.  Birds all look the same.  People are amazing.  We’re frail and guarded and vulnerable and stoic.  Never more so than on the subway. 

It’s such a bizarre conceit:  we’re all crammed together, sometimes so tightly that we touch, but we’re bound by social constructs not to talk to each other.  Not only that, we’re barely supposed to LOOK at each other.  Is it sad?  Lonely?  Isolated?  Maybe.

But even without words or eye contact, we share so much with fellow passengers that words are almost unnecessary.  We can hear each others’ music through headphones.  Smell each others’ perfume.  Feel the soft, cushy coats we’re squished in next to. 

If someone sneezes on the subway, someone will invariably bless them.  If coffee is spilled, a napkin is offered.  If tears are shed, a Kleenex is passed.

We’re not alone.  We’re not aloof.  We’re screaming in our heads but underground, we’re quietly stewing out of mutual respect for people we’ve never even met and will probably never meet again.

Take that, birds.

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