Thursday, January 13, 2005


“Your attention please; this train will not be stopping at Warren Street station. I repeat – this train will not be stopping at Warren Street. This is because the escalators are not working.”

Sighs; looks of stoic resignation; one woman pushes her way out through the crowded carriage, muttering under her breath.

Two minutes later the train stops at Warren Street station; the doors open, people get on, everything appears normal. No announcements. Puzzled faces at first, then I smile unconsciously at the irony. Looking around, my eyes meet the eyes of other smiles and so the smiles broaden in recognition of a shared thought. Not that it’s funny; but the situation accords with our perception of a public transport system that barely knows what it’s doing.

And for those few precious seconds, our protection of our own inner space is dropped a fraction, and our shoulder-to-shoulder isolation from each other is temporarily broken. That act of recognition, seeing and reflecting a smile on another’s face, momentarily joins us together.

But then the doors close, the train moves off and as the moment passes, eyes drop as we all studiously avoid meeting another’s gaze. We’re alone again in a crowded carriage. Normality has returned.

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