I took the train home yesterday, because the Prime Number Bus pulled away as I was walking up the block to the stop. (I could have looked up when it was arriving online, but instead I just meandered over there when I was ready, and the timing was bad.) It would have been half an hour for the next Prime Number Bus, and the other bus that runs close to my house was 15 minutes away.
It's only a 0.6 mile walk from the train to my house (the Prime Number Bus runs 0.2 miles from my house), and I was in a hurry to get home, so I hopped on a train.
I love the train. It's even more interesting than the bus, because there are more people on it and no conductor and people stand all around leaning against the windows and holding onto the posts.
There was a woman whose little son was in a stroller. He was about 18 months old, and he was fully adorable. I kept looking at him and smiling. He was clearly getting annoyed with the world, though, and his mom looked stressed. When he started crying, she gave up trying to calm him and buried herself in texting. I don't mind crying babies. He was still awfully cute, even in tears.
An older woman came down the few stairs from the only-seating area. She complemented my dress, and I smiled and said thank you around my ear buds. As she got off at the next stop, she pointed over at the adorable baby. I smiled, thinking she was noticing his cuteness, too, but instead she said, as she got off the train, "Pay attention to your baby, bitch," and I realized that she wasn't pointing at the cute baby but at his stressed out and very young mom. I couldn't even respond, because she was already gone.
A group of teenagers got on, all bluff and bravado. We were getting off at the same stop, and they were closer to the door, so I looked at the one nearest the door and smiled, expecting him to step out the door, and he smiled in return and stepped back into his friends and let me off first.
I thought about two things, walking the 0.6 miles home.
First, I love living in a city, where you see and interact with people so much more than you can in the suburbs where everyone hides behind the windshield of their car.
And second, you do sometimes get out of the world what you see in it. The older woman expected bad things from a young mom with a crying baby, and that's what she got. I expected an adorable baby and his stressed out mom, and that's what I got. I've watched negative interactions between teenagers and adults on the train in the past, when the adults expected the teenagers to be hoodlums. I expected nice kids hiding behind bravado, and that's what I got.
It doesn't always work out that way, but it's pretty great when it does.