On Board #53

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Feb. 12, 2009, 8:55 p.m.
B Train – 7th Avenue to Broadway/Lafayette

All eleven people on this train are alone. And spaced out acordingly.

There’s an elderly Asian man, in a denim jacket and faux-Burberry scarf. He has a gold watch and satchel and is not smiling. Four seats over, a younger Asian woman, her down jacket hood pulled tightly around her face. A 30-year old man in a black stocking zap. A regal middle-aged woman in a white hat and burgundy coat. A young Hispanic man, in a leather jacket and hooded sweatshirt – his hood sags low, hiding whatever emotion there might be in his eyes. All have at least two seats between them.

Two young black teens sit across from each other at one end of the train. They look like they could be a couple, but they’re silent. He looks his age in a black baseball cap with the logos of every NFL team. She looks 10 years older, with her black jeans and classic purse. The only other person on their end of the train is a 25-year old Hispanic man. It’s Valentine’s Day in 27 hours and he’s got a bouquet of white lilies. He sings in Spanish, loudly, but to himself.

At Dekalb, a family of four boards: two parents, and what seems to be a son with his betrothed. They look at the subway map, and discuss what they see out the window over the bridge. They talk and laugh and smile.

Among the original eleven is a 24-year old of indeterminate ethnicity, as his beige cap and gray scarf have left just an inch of skin on each side of his eyes. He pulls out a Blackberry when we cross the bridge. He’s closest to an older white woman with two rolling bags – one covered in plastic, the other with a garish Route 66 design – and a Fanta bottle in each side pocket. Her black hat has a moonshaped broach, and beneath it she’s fallen asleep. Only an abrupt stop at Grand wakes her up.

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