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September 1st, 2006


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01:03 pm - Oh it's the New Shoe Revue
"New shoes?"

Skinny man in his 20s. Typical Boston Irish lad, wiry hair, pointy chin, wearing a faded sports jersey and, for most of the Red Line ride up from Broadway, nervously smacking his cellphone. Now, after the train had stopped at Park Street to gorge itself on afternoon commuters and groan along to Charles, he'd suddenly found the strength and inner courage to speak aloud.

"New shoes?"

This didn't faze the trainload one bit. Many folks suddenly find themselves getting chatty around Charles. Usually, though, their statements are self-affirming solutions to identity crises: "It's me." Or self-grounding reminders of one's place in the universe: "I'm on the train." Often, they involve cellphones. This young man didn't have one, though. He was staring at the ground.

"New shoes?"

Then he stared up at the woman in front of him. Early 30s. Office worker. Probably HR. Large black bag over her shoulder.

"New shoes?"

She finally decided to notice him.

"I'm sorry?"

"I was, uh. Just noticing. New shoes?"

The other passengers, obviously in shock that A Stranger had actually gone and spoken to Another Stranger, stayed stock-still and silent. Everybody nonchalantly tried to appear preoccupied with staring at anything else they could find. I peered over my copy of 101 Ways to Avoid Eye Contact and looked down. The lady was wearing some strappy kind of shoe-thing. One on each foot, I mean. She had two feet. And each foot was wearing a shoe. But one foot had a band-aid around its ankle.

"No," the lady sighed. "That was my own stupidity." Then she dropped her bag on the ground and stepped behind it, inching herself away from the guy and conveniently hiding her footwear at the same time. I braced myself for the obvious follow-up question, but it never came. The guy had turned to another lady standing near him.

"Want my seat?"

I went back to my book.

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:derspatchel
Date:September 1st, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
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They are just taking a very kind interest in the state of your feet!


also, 9 jack 9 was my favorite
(Deleted comment)
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From:derspatchel
Date:September 1st, 2006 07:16 pm (UTC)
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I hung out with Scott and one of his kids at Vericon one year; we walked from Hahvahd Yahd to MYP and had a lot of fun just yakkin'. I think Terry Moore was walking with us then too.
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From:muse0fire
Date:September 1st, 2006 06:17 pm (UTC)
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One of the biggest adjustments that one makes when one moves from the North to the South is the fact that here people who don't know you will talk to you - and they're NOT necessarily crazy... you even learn to talk back... imagine, conversing with a total stranger!

Those wacky southerners....

(Every time I go North to visit the 'rents I have to remind myself NOT to smile and say hi when I pass strangers - don't want to be involuntarily committed.)
[User Picture]
From:antikythera
Date:September 1st, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)
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Boston strangers are friendlier than Toronto strangers. I remember once being on the T with... kalibex?... and somehow we ended up in a conversation about doughnuts with a random gentleman carrying two dozen Krispy Kremes.
[User Picture]
From:muse0fire
Date:September 1st, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
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Ah, Krispy Kremes. Bringing the world together. Like Coke, but without the singing and with melty glaze. Yum.
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From:derspatchel
Date:September 1st, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
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You can always tell the out-of-towners on the T, especially Southerners and Midwesterners, because they're jovially trying to engage the sullen college kids in conversation.

"Oh, that's great, and how do you like BU?"

It does make me smile.

[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:September 1st, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC)
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That's what makes visiting the northeast so nice for Southern introverts, like myself.
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From:violacat
Date:September 3rd, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
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People strike up random conversations with me all the time, and I don't know why.

I only get annoyed about it when I'm busking, but I have to admit that I'm purposely drawing attention to myself in that situation. But I expected Boston to be much less friendly than it is to me.
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From:ilovehpl
Date:September 1st, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
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So true... One of the things I noticed at my job down here is that people will start out a perfectly legitimate business call by saying "Hiiii. How you doin' today?" and wait for your answer. Up North, receiving a phone call that begins that way could only mean the customer is high or crank-calling you. It really threw me for a while.
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From:spwebdesign
Date:September 3rd, 2006 12:08 am (UTC)
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It's even worse here in London. I struck up a conversation with a young lady on the Piccadilly Line last week. (I incorrectly assumed she was a foreigner because she didn't simply ignore me, as is the typical M.O. here.) A couple of exchanges in she suddenly says to me, "You know, people don't generally talk on the Tube. Look around. Haven't you noticed no one is saying anything?" Despite that, we continued the conversation until she got off the train…more of a meta-conversation on conversations with strangers, though.
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From:limax
Date:September 1st, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)
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Human interaction. Ew.
From:sernin
Date:September 1st, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
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I am one of those crazy Southern women who will talk to complete strangers in any type of social situation. I must have been close to involuntary hospitalization after a week of chatting up people on the Metro when I was on vacation.
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From:spwebdesign
Date:September 3rd, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
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This reminds me of Coupling's Jeffrey in the episode "The Man with Two Legs."
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From:luckimunki
Date:September 4th, 2006 12:35 am (UTC)
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"I peered over my copy of 101 Ways to Avoid Eye Contact and looked down."

This is by far one of the cleverest things you have written in a long time.

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