[I wrote a bunch of stuff while I commuted between Connecticut and NYC back in the 80s. I thought, just for grins, I would start posting a few selections. ]
Another unspoken rule on the train was to never read your seatmate’s work, at least not while they were still working on it. I recall a day when we were rattling down the tracks, three-deep in a seat. I was on the aisle. The middle man was madly working on a report which obviously had a pregnant deadline. He was pecking away on his calculator like a woodpecker going for the last bug in a birch.
The guy in the window seat was apparently sleeping. I was not working on anything or sleeping. I was just looking around for something to arrest my attention, when the middle man suddenly erupted with a distinct $#*!! Middle Man’s calculator had stopped calculating.
As his heart rate accelerated and he began to bang his calculator about, the man on the other side of him, Window Man, pulled out a calculator, and said evenly, “Here, use mine. You need base-10, right?” Now how would Window Man know what Middle Man’s calculation needs were if he had not been reading the other man’s report? I wanted to chip in that back on page 34 he had a comma splice, but felt in light of the anxiety over his @*#$!! calculator, I decided to hold my review.
“No man is an island,” Donne said. And that was certainly true when we were three to a seat on the Metro North. It was also symbolic of how truly helpful people were. We all appeared to be solitary sojourners, not really interested in the needs of others (unless they wanted to sit by you); but the moment there was a crisis, help was often an elbow away.