Friday, April 25, 2014

Judge Not—But Don’t Hold Up the Line, Either

Oh, good. Now there is a screaming toddler on the train. That makes the evening commute just perfect!

Actually, it doesn’t bother me. Well, not that much, anyway. I’ve sat a row ahead of many a screaming child on airplanes going much farther than the Red Line. You have to forgive a baby. By definition, they don’t know any better. They have no idea how close they come to making the working stiffs on the train break a window to jump into the dark tunnel and onto the tracks.

What really gets me are the adults. The adults who should know how to behave, and yet don’t.


Like the woman in front of me on the platform tonight. Actually, she was in front of me and a whole herd of other luckless commuters. The train pulls into the station and it happens to stop in such a position that a set of doors is right in front of this woman. I mean, a mouse couldn’t have gotten by her. So, when the doors open, and she doesn’t move, as in, board the train, I’m thinking, what’s the holdup here?

Oh, of course, she’s reading her phone! A text message has just come in, or perhaps an engrossing e-mail. And all of us passengers situated behind here, who have trekked through the wind tunnels of downtown to reach South Station, now so intent on settling in to the next leg of our journeys to home and hearth, are stymied behind her. Seeing the doors open, and no one come out, I advanced, nearly bumping into this woman, until I realized she was not moving. At that point, I passed her on the right, like a power forward going in for two points.

I did not look back to see if she ever made it onto the train. I assume she inched her way in eventually. And I realize I’m no one to be judging her. Perhaps a beloved aunt had passed away, or perhaps her boyfriend was breaking up with her via text. She might have had good reason to pause to read the message and hold up the parade home. But somehow I doubt it.

So much has already been written and said about the dangers of people addicted to their smartphones. This is just one more example of someone not able to be alone with her thoughts, even for the three minutes it took for the train to arrive. Time is too precious, the messages too many, the information flowing incessantly. Who am I to judge? At least she wasn't driving the train, and we all made it to Davis Square safely. What happened after that is anyone's guess.

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