Can We Talk??

Two weeks ago I took the light rail to meet our son downtown at the Seattle central library. I love living someplace with public transportation, I only wish the system were extensive enough that I could get everywhere in the area. Seattle is in the process of expanding what’s called “The Link”, so in the very near future I won’t have to drive fifteen minutes and leave my car at the Park-and-Ride. I welcome that. In the meantime, that’s what I do when I want to head someplace like downtown, with congested and nearly impossible street parking or garages with high fees. I noticed most of the people on the train were fixated on their cell phones during the ride. I thought it was unfortunate enough that I texted my son to complain about it, thus realizing I also became  one of “those people”. I decided the next time I rode, I was going to engage at least one other passenger in conversation. Part of my determination resulted from an online interview I saw with The New York Times commentator, David Brooks. He has a new book, centered on the lack of communication prevalent in society today. I haven’t read it but I sure agreed with what he said in the interview. So yesterday I was back on the light rail. I’m not so naive that I will indiscriminately talk to just anyone I run into on the train but across from me was a twenty-something man who sat with a pair of specialized sports shoes on the floor between his feet. They were different than any I’d seen and I asked him what sport they were associated with. “Basketball,” he said, grinning broadly. “They don’t look like basketball shoes,” I said and he went on to explain what made them different and proceeded to tell me he had gotten them at a second-hand store at a great price. They were only slightly worn and he was proud of the good deal he’d gotten. He usually plays with a friend named Victor, who always beats him. He laughed  and said he hoped the new shoes might make a difference and I told him I was sure him they would. A few stops later, a friendly young man with a German Shepherd puppy got on and we talked about his dog. He was trying to get the dog accustomed to riding  on public transportation, which is dog-friendly in this city. The dog mostly sat down at his feet but every time the doors opened at a stop, he got up and let out a soft mournful howl when he wasn’t allowed to get off, which caused everyone on our car to smile and the young man to reassure his dog. I think David Brooks is right on. As humans, we crave any simple connection with other people. Even if it’s through something as seemingly inconsequential as basketball shoes or a five-month-old puppy..


Photo courtesy Skitterphoto at

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