I remember once, back at DePauw, talking about whether or not it is rude to ignore someone who talks to you on the subway uninvited. I think there was a Talk of the Town piece about someone witnessing some such act. I, of course, was the ONLY PERSON IN MY CLASS who thought that No, I did not have to engage a stranger attempting to talk to me.
Well, yesterday morning, as I sat, waiting for the L Train to depart the 8th Avenue station, this normal looking guy took a seat next to me. Now, to be fair, there was a crazy person in the car, preaching the good word about Jesus, but the person next to me did not appear to fall under the category of subway-crazy. He looked like someone who might have gone to DePauw.
Except of course, then he started talking to me. Sigh.
First, he tried talking to me about the subway map–I was sitting in front of it. I just smiled and turned my head away. Then he said “Do you think there are more believers or readers on this train.” OY, I thought to myself. I made eye contact with a girl sitting across from me as she got out her headphones. “Readers,” I said. “Oh really,” he replied, “because I just read that 80% of New York City school kids can’t read.” I turned my head away from him. I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU, I screamed silently.
Next, he made a comment about patent leather shoes. Because of course, I was wearing patent leather shoes. I didn’t respond. Then he said “Are you from New York?” And I replied Yes because it was easier than saying No which would have lead to MANY FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS. “Figured,” he replied, which was of course, his way of calling me a bitch without saying it.
As the train pulled, finally, into my station, the girl with headphones rose to get off as well. As we waited for the doors to open, with the preacher woman preaching next to us, she looked at me, took a headphone out and said “You always have to wear headphones, even if you’re not listening to anything.”