Sunday on the PATH


Posted on February 24th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. 3 comments

Despite the rats and the garbage and the bums and the smell, I love the trains. I love the rocking of the train. I love the characters on the train.  I love how quickly I can lose myself in a book or a magazine. On Sunday’s, the train is usually filled with tourists and other interesting people. When I ride the PATH train into NJ, it’s usually too crowded to find a seat, so I’m forced to stand. When this happens, I usually find other ways to amuse myself. Today was interesting.

As I stood on the platform of the 14th street PATH station, I became aware of a young guy moving behind me. He walked directly up to a young chick on the platform. Right away he started his rap. He commented on her gloves, they were thick, fingerless gloves. He commented about Michael Jackson and the “Bad” video that was shot in the subway. She was maybe 25. She had no idea what he was talking about. He was Asian, in his early 20’s, with the biggest nose I’ve ever seen on a chinese dude. He was from Taiwan. He came here when he was six. I know this because I listened to every word. She was white, with dark hair, blue eyes and terrible skin. She was reading Time magazine. She worked in a printing plant. They talked easily at first. They both smiled uncomfortably.

He said that he didn’t vote. Obama was a liar, so was the other guy. The pants weren’t quite skinny jeans, but they were new and tight. She wore an orange raincoat with brown boots. He asked her to guess what he did for a living. He said she would never guess. She said, something financial? He laughed, “why, cause I’m Asian and good with numbers?” They both laughed.  He said he was a dentist, and she had beautiful bicuspids or some other tooth. I thought it was a corny line. She laughed again. He went to Rutgers and lived in NJ most of his life, but he goes back to Taiwan a lot. His father lives in Taiwan. He never left. The old man speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese, but no English.   He asked about her. She was from North Carolina, but she lived in Chicago, New York and Wisconsin. She went to school in Wisconsin, but the train screeched so I couldn’t hear what school.

  What did you do in Wisconsin?

I worked at a (undecipherable) plant.

Really? Are you radioactive? HA HA. 

 I said printing plant.  

OH, he replied, his attempt at humor destroyed by the screeching of the train.

We were in Hoboken now. The doors opened. Neither moved to get off. I suddenly realized that they had never exchanged names. I suddenly realized that I had written a story like this. It’s in the book.  I wondered when he was going to ask her out. I wondered if he would ask her out to coffee at starbucks. What do young people do on dates in the 21st century?

He seemed to be handling the situation with ease. There were no uncomfortable moments. It seemed like a lot of hard work to be that bubbly and charming. Well, he wasn’t that charming. For a moment, I imagined being on a date with a new person. I shuddered at the thought. It’s been a while.

Her – Hi. Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do?

ME – well, I like to complain on facebook. I brood a lot. I stay up til 4am and sleep til 11. I watch baseball every day, and I write scripts that I can’t get read. I have a blog and I’m going to write about this date in it.

Her- OK. It was nice meeting you. Take care.

I turned back to my victims. I call them victims because they were oblivious to me, and if I was a serial killer, I could kill them both. They gave out far too much information for a chance meeting. 

The conversation was labored now. He was boring her. He was talking about teeth and Asian culture. Even I was losing interest. This wasn’t going anywhere and it made me happy. They were both pretty ugly and plain. He had spiked hair and a case of dandruff.  I didn’t want them to have children. I couldn’t imagine them having sex. I didnt want to see either one of the naked. They were both gangly.

The train pulled into Newport. My stop. I wanted to thank them for the material they had given me for today’s blog, but I decided agaisnt it.





3 thoughts on “Sunday on the PATH

  1. im just glad no one spilt sunflower seeds on the Train or platform …
    The Path has a strange not terrible odor all it’s own ..I workrd on the L at 14th street and the smell line of demarcation was clear the minute you entered the Path’s Path ..

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