If you grew up in Westchester County the Metro North train is synonymous with the Manhattan. You live and die by the Metro North. It’s the most unreliable, reliable mode of transportation you can image. Seriously. No matter what how many times they tell you the train is “operating on schedule,” you can almost guarantee with certainty that it isn’t, yet you’ll always run for it just in case…
So, I won’t even go into the frustration of high ticket costs, lateness, lack of seats/cars, rude conductors, no air filtering, etc. Rather, what really makes the metro north “experience” is your fellow commuters. Yup. All the suckers who, like me, take this glorified (yet over-priced) version of a subway on a daily basis.
I’ve seen things while commuting that I never thought imaginable. My all-time favorite? Probably the day my friend and stood (not by choice) in a vestibule with a few other passengers and one of said passengers reached in his pocket to get his ticket out and….oopps… a large knife he was carrying fell to the floor. I’m not kidding. That’s not even the scary part. The scary part is that none of us paid him any mind like “eh, that’s totally normal,” just exchanged some curious glances and went on with our travels.
It doesn’t stop there. Conversations. I know more about the intimate details of complete strangers lives and their loved ones than I know about my own friends. The best part is when people catch you listening in on their conversation (again, not by choice) and shoot you a nasty look. I’ve even had a woman comment to the person she was talking to that she couldn’t proceed because “she had ‘ears’ listening.” Seriously. I realize being an above ground train that it’s easy to “catch-up” with folks while you mindlessly ride into the city, but if you don’t want people listening then why are you putting your personal life out there in public?
Oh, I can go on forever. However, this morning I experienced something I’ve never seen before on the Metro North. A woman, a nice enough woman, was seated next to me and started balancing her check book. There’s nothing that unusual about balancing a checkbook, but rather it was that she decided to take out a pile of bank statements out to check against. These statements had her account numbers clearly marked and completely visible. That baffles me, especially in this day in age when identity theft is so prominent. It was like an open invitation for someone to just take her entire life savings without much effort. Amazing.
Maybe she doesn’t think “thieves” or “fraudsters” ride the Metro North. (insert some witty lawyer/stockbroker joke here)… Maybe it’s my fault, I should have told her about my encounter on a Metro North, in a vestibule, with a random man and a knife — an actual criminal. Then again, it wouldn’t do much good. Who really pays attention to anyone on the Metro North?
Apparently, just me.