On momentary connection

Usually, when I get on the train in the morning, it’s full of other people who are all minding their own business, and presumably trying to wake up before they get to work. People read if they have space to hold a book or a phone, or stare out of the window if they don’t. We all squish up to each other, but try not to actually acknowledge anyone’s existence.

Occasionally something happens which breaks the spell, even if only momentarily. People catch each other’s eyes and smile. It lasts a couple of seconds, and then it’s gone. Except it’s not really gone, there’s still the faintest hint of connection in the air. The slightest remembrance of the smile on the faces of strangers.

It doesn’t happen nearly often enough, but it doesn’t take much, just something a little bit unexpected.

Last week, as the train doors closed and the train pulled away from the station, the driver, who usually says, “Train to Spandau, next stop ..XYZ..”, announced, “In case anyone wanted to know, it is exactly 7:10 am, NOW!….” There was a pause, we all looked round to see who might actually want to know what the time was. Eyebrows were raised slightly. “…And incidentally, have a fantastic morning!”. We smiled, grinned even, and went back to our books, our phones and our vacant gazes out of the windows.

The connection was short, but real.

At the next station we looked up, waited expectantly for the next announcement, “Train to Spandau, next stop XYZ.”

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