Thursday, May 29, 2008

Aging Hipster And Other Subway Moments

Yesterday on my train ride home I stood next to an aging hipster sitting and listening to his rap music really loud on his headphones. I mean, if I could hear that music, he was playing it really loud.

He wore a corduroy professor's blazer and had a copy of Blender or something like that in his hands. I kept thinking that maybe he wrote for one of those magazines.

Sitting next to him was a middle-aged African-American man -- about the same age as Aging Hipster, actually -- with an Army cap. He was reading a book on how using the right words can transform your life.

And everywhere people were cradling their Blackberries and iPhones. I mean, a least 2/3rds of the train.

They didn't just hold their PDAs like they were merely another gadget, inert plastic and computer chips. They cradled them, they held on to them like a child does to a favorite blanket. Except "favorite" doesn't really convey the need with which these people held the phones.

A woman who had been burdened by carrying several plants had finally got a seat, but then immediately gave it up again for a pregnant woman.

I didn't get a seat this time. I just stood next to Aging Hipster, listening to his rap music, watching his expressionless head make a sudden quick nod every once in a while to acknowledge what he was listening to.


  1. See, this is why I hate living in rural America.

    I suppose we have our "interesting things and people" too.

  2. one of the great things about working in flatbush is that i commute AGAINST traffic & often have only one or zero people for company.

  3. Naturally, no man got up to give a pregnant woman his seat.

  4. sounds a lot like my daily commute on the L. makes me want to move somewhere i can buy some land and raise goats.

  5. That's why I don't take the train anymore. I can drive to work in my car with my music turned way up and not bother anybody ;)


  6. Solid characterization and scene building. Short on plot, but then it's a bit short for plot. Still, the end recalls the beginning in a nice way.

    Sorry, it's tagged as writing. I couldn't help myself.

  7. reddog-- you conciously choose a car over mass transit? wild.

  8. Anonymous11:05 AM

    I find moments with other people's gadgets...interesting. I'll never forget the time I was in this high tech corporate tower: the lobby all gleaming marble and satiny stainless steel. I felt frumpy, wearing my wrinkled shirt and pants that were faded at the seams.

    As a distraction, I pulled out my book. I think I was reading John Irving, but that may only be because I'm reading John Irving now. Settling into a fictitious world, I was able to set aside my insecurities for a bit.

    As I approached the elevator, I saw that a crowd had gathered...four or five other people also waiting. All of them had Blackberries of various sizes and shapes (this was before the iPhone revolution), and all of them were gazing down at them in rapt attention.

    When the elevator doors opened and we all shuffled our way inside, we were all staring downward at our transportation devices. None of us were there in that elevator.

    I allowed myself to feel smugly superior that mine was ink printed on paper. It showed that I was smarter...more literate.

    Then the doors opened, I put my book away and walked to the job interview I would fail...badly.

  9. I'll be the first to say this-having a blackberry for the last year, through work, has completely revolutionized my life. By being connected to work in that fashion, i've been able to work from outside of the office for a far larger amount of time than I was in every year of my life up until then, and it's freed me up to spend more time doing the things I enjoy, spend time with my girlfriend/now-wife, and it's been hugely effective in eliminating forgotten deadlines, keeping in touch with my co-workers, and all kinds of other nerdy, organization type stuff.

    I realize that mobile communication has had a hugely negative effect in regards to some people's separation of "work" and "private life" but for me, i'm no longer locked up for 60 hours a week in the NY office, and I've gotten to spend way more time with my wife and friends than I'd ever imagined would be possible without some lottery-style windfall of cash.

    Some of us techno-people aren't that bad, if you got to know us.

  10. Anonymous2:13 PM

    This is what I love about when I go from Westchester and take the subway from Grand Central. I go to a trivia night in the Village once in a while, and I swear the same beggar was on the 6 for about four months with the same pitch. And as for aging hipsters, I had shoulder length hair but cut it off when I turned 30 because I didn't want to be that guy, who is 45 with a ponytail! :)

  11. I wish I could talk about my daily commute, but, sadly, they're spent looking at the inside of my eyelids mostly.