Sitting alone on a sold out train

“This is a sold out service from Penn Station to Niagara Falls, so today is Make A Friend day at Amtrak.”
And so I snapped back to reality while boarding a train in New York City to head upstate to Albany.
To this point, the 40 odd hours of travel (at least 25 of which had been spent in the air) had been a sort of suspended reality, as the extent of my human interaction was robotic at best and symptomatic of a brain injury at worst.
It’s not unusual on long haul travel for people to operate at a bare minimum, shifting a total of three to four smiles an hour, dealing in fewer words and moving only enough to not have the occupant of the window seat drag their crotch across your face as they make for the bathroom.
But even still, it took another train ride, several exclamations about my accent and a terrible chicken sandwich to liven me up to the point where I could laugh at our conductor’s jab at New York residents’ famed hostility toward strangers.
It’s bizarre how the same hundreds of people who had no understanding of the concept of personal space 30 seconds ago while forcing their way through the queue to get on the train could be so uncomfortable about being required to sit next to someone.
Symptomatic of the jet lag worn traveller and the early morning commuter then; not of a city.
I’m probably just bitter because on this ‘sold out’ service there was still an empty seat… next to me. They’re just feelings New York, they’ll heal.


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