You never know who you’re riding next to on the New York Subway. Stock brokers sit next to high school students, a budding singer rubs shoulders with a rabbi or even a tired construction worker catches some “ZZZs” while young subway performers dance on crowded trains.
This morning. I’m a running a little late and I’m on an overcrowded train. Despite the rumblings of the train barreling down the steel tracks, the car was early quiet. Maybe everyone else is just as tired as I am tired. It’s the tail end of the week and perhaps we are all wishing it was Friday already. One stop. A rush of new passengers. Next stop. More early morning commuters. Another stop and I’m squeezed from my prime real estate and move towards the middle of train to find some salvation. The train hums along and my grip tightens on the bar holding my balance. I’m definitely trying to catch a quick standing nap (standing and sleeping is a special art one learns as a daily subway commuter) even on this crowded train. With eyes closed, a firm grip and sound of the daily commute as my lullaby, I’m shaken by the train taking a turn a little too fast. I shuffle, brace the passenger who is falling into me and steady myself. Just then…I glance down and notice the artist skillfully applying quick strokes of lead to worn paper revealing an unsuspecting subway passenger across the way. Even in this crowded train, with the steady vibrations of steel wheels on steel tracks, a steady hand produced a beautiful subway portrait. I watched. And captured him as he captured someone else.
subway car full of strangers in the own bubbles