I know these people – I have no idea who they are

Carriage of London Midland train
Like many people I commute by train to work. I’ve done it on and off for about six years now (I had two years off for good behaviour when I got a different job). It can at times be frustrating or tiring but I’m well aware it’s not the worst I could have by any stretch – it’s not anything like a hellish time of being rammed into a strangers smelly armpit for the entire length. I think it’s in the Goldilocks zone as I’ve been told in equal amounts that it’s long or short. Thing is, I love the enforced downtime it brings to my day. I get to listen to podcasts or read a book uninterrupted for around an hour and a half a day and that is not something that many people get to do.

The other day I was staring into space as we were coming into the station, and glancing at a couple of the other passengers it struck me that I’ve seen them almost every day for the past six years and I have no idea who they are or anything about them. I have never and probably will never speak to them and yet there’s a familiarity, a silent friendship. And it’s perfect.

Don’t get me wrong I like to think I’m a sociable person and I enjoy meeting new people but in the environment of a commuter train its not something I would want. For one thing you’re not at your best first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Added to that its so quiet sometimes that any conversation carries itself through the whole carriage and I certainly don’t want everyone to hear my life story.

We’re friends really

Outside of the train (and the station) though its fine. If you see someone you can give them the biggest hello, then Monday morning pretend nothing has happened. To me a sign of a strong relationship is the ability to have comfortable silences and that’s what this is. An all round respect for each others need for privacy. And yet, I feel that should I ever need their help I’d have it. They’d certainly have mine. It’s quite beautiful and I wouldn’t change it.

I’ll miss everyone when I won’t be doing this commute anymore. I hope they miss me too. Whoever they are.

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