I must say, it feels like the “train people” are a whole different species...
1. Living underground.
2. Moving in packs.
3. Going about their business in complete silence …with their mostly solemn and expressionless faces.
Everyday I feel like I’m visiting some kooky monastery.
On rare occasions, one of the train people will speak. Since speaking is such an unusual privilege among the train people, all speech must only serve to reinforce the rules of their society.
And the rules are extensive indeed.
Luckily, I’m well versed in their most important rule, “STAND RIGHT, WALK LEFT!” …Many years ago, a younger Kerry experienced a Singapore-esque umbrella caning by one of the train people after displaying ignorance to the rule on the escalator. Kerry’s bum never forgot.
The other rules are of lesser importance, but still provide the fabric of the train people society…
Do NOT look at anyone squarely in the eyes for a period lasting longer than .5 seconds.
Do NOT stand in the doorway when people are boarding / deboarding.
Do NOT delay the train people waiting behind you with fumbling / misuse of your fare card.
Do NOT attempt to make polite chitchat, unless the chitchat serves to reinforce the rules (Example of permissible chitchat: “can you believe that idiot didn’t stand right?”) This includes (but is certainly not limited to) very long delays when the train is stopped in a dark tunnel.
Do NOT…for any period of time…stop to contemplate where you’re going or what train you will use. The train people will undoubtedly “tsk” you into a world of shame.
Consequences for rule violations are swift and just, ranging from the aforementioned caning, to the less severe tongue lashing.
So it’s all quite a change. I’m coming from Charleston, the world of happy chatty people. This system is so peculiar to me …as a former happy chatty person.
It’s just one big, damn, anonymous hurry. And just another life change.