In my experience most people spend their morning subway commute in solitude looking down at their phone. I wasn’t always a morning person so I understand not wanting to be bothered by anyone while on your way to work. Let’s not forget that rush hour also tends to leave the subway too crowded, filled with a strange odor, and either too hot or too cold. I tend to enjoy the heaps of people standing and sitting in silence.
From the moment I stepped outside this morning felt like one of those days. Leaving five minutes late is never great but especially less than ideal when it’s raining and you need to refill your metrocard. I was already asking for trouble. Since my metrocard was slightly bent I had the privilege of being charged for a new monthly while also having the machine tell me there was an error in coding. Translation: card won’t properly swipe at the turnstile and I paid for nothing. Looks like I will have to deal with the MTA later when I have more time. Fun times.
I finally managed to get myself on the train. Immediately I felt the stuffiness in the air but was also relieved that I was going to be on the move. As I’m grabbing the pole a man on the train bumps into my hand. I watch as my coffee mug (a cup of coffee everyday is an essential for me) falls to the gross subway floor. I stopped myself from saying I’m sorry because I realized it wasn’t my fault. He bumped into me. As I picked up my mug he looked at me and apologized. I felt relief that he didn’t shoot me a dirty stare implying that I am to blame. After all, some of my precious coffee spilled on his shoes. I remarked how it’s already one of those days. Instead of going back to the conversation with his friend he begins to talk to me. He tells me that he’s in a good mood because he got to spend extra time with his son that morning. He shares with me how incredible it is having his two and a half year old son tell him about his dreams from the previous night. Although I don’t know this man and will probably never see him again his smile was warm and seemed genuine. I have no idea what is going on for him but today he seemed pretty happy. Not only that, he apologized to me. At the time I thought it was his fault but who’s to say. Maybe I was juggling too much stuff and easily lost my grip on the coffee mug. It is only a cup of coffee so in the grand scheme of things it is irrelevant.
On another day maybe I would have stayed mad, maybe not. All I know is that today it made stepping in water (should have worn my rain boots), beating crowds at Herald Square, and spilling my coffee matter less. I kept things in perspective. This simple ten minute chat somehow made my entire day better.
I won’t deny that sometimes you need someone to listen to you vent and be angry or even irrational. But sometimes you need someone, even a stranger, to remind you of the bright side.