Flumes Vol. 5: Issue 1, Summer 2020 - Page 13


The metro train rattles into the station. Naturally, it’s the social norm to line up either side of the doors, to allow quick and easy disembarkation. At every door, however, there will be one passenger who does not adhere to this rule. They will mistakenly believe that they will have an empty wagon, with a smiling conductor who will unburden them of their luggage and welcome them into a plush private compartment. The reality of most mainline stations is a commuter stampede that charges off the train. Standing in front of doors is either brave or spectacularly stupid. Some people will realize their mistake a little too late; they can only writhe in horror as they form a breakwater in the commuter crowd descending upon them. The average commuter storming off the train has zero-tolerance for indecisive platform dwellers.

Some passengers don’t expect to be rushed; they lash out like cornered wild animals. All too suddenly, your trip to the inner-city dentists can transform into some type of blood sport.

Some of the brave and more intrepid door dwellers will be bold enough to counter-attack and storm the wagon. Their weaving and winding are athletic, crafty, and downright impressive.

Once the Metro doors slide open, it becomes a game of positioning, a desperate gambit to find a seat or quiet corner. The area of desire is the pivot between wagons, the vestibule. There’s a sign saying do not stand here, but despite — or perhaps because of — that, it is often a tiny rotating oasis of peace. Riding the journey out of this position can afford you the time and space to watch the wildlife. From this vantage point, you will spot the several species of metro inhabitants that you can encounter at any time of the day.

The seat prowler is an aggressive creature, usually on the wrong side of fifty, and not limited to any one demographic. Once the metro train door opens, they will rush to the nearest empty seat. Most commuters will happily move aside to allow them access and avoid a confrontation, but occasionally the seat prowler will come across another of their species, and a territorial show of force is inevitable, as is the argument about who deserves the seat more. Sometimes it can get nasty, and other passengers will often have to intervene to avoid violence. Then, without a hint of irony, both the seat prowlers will get up and disembark the train at the next station.

The train walker is a creature that frequently walks the length of the train for no other reason but to get closer to the street exit when they disembark. They tend to be young, impatient, and unconcerned about muscling their way through the crowds. Their prowls tend to arouse suspicion, as it is a known tactic of the pickpockets to walk the wagon and signal easy prey to their accomplices.