I go on the subway, it is not rush hour despite which all the seats are occupied, so I support next to one of the doors.
There are seven stations, not too many if compared to the «Via Crucis», which are 15, but enough to put the radar in «on» mode, one of the four options that subway offers when you travel alone:
a) Take a look at your mobile even if you don’t have coverage or the conversation with someone follows next style: “He.lo, ho. ar. you .oing?” and the answer is “are .ou in the sub.ay, aren’t ..u?” and you, by raising the voice, say “Yes, you hear .e?”, and the other “.ot ..ite well. .ou have cov..age?” and you, shouting, “what are .ou ask..g me about my age?” and then silence on the other side of the line, while the whole car looks at you as if you were an idiot, one thing one never should rule out. Well, that’s what happens to me with my mobile on the subway, but not to everyone because I often see other people talking with the artifact in question without any problems and then I go into “paranoid” mode… “mmmm, what will be the company hired by the fucking one who is talking on the phone while no one in the car is able to hear him? I can’t do it!” or “do the mobile companies pursue me?” or “I know, he’s talking to himself so that the others make themselves the same absurd questions that I’m doing myself because it can not be that everyone has coverage and my fucking shit mobile doesn’t have it”.
b) Reading or do as if you were reading, but reading identifies you:
If it is a certain newspaper (well, technically it is always a particular newspaper), those around you may qualify you as fascist, communist, independentist or freaky depending on what you read. And if you read a book you face the same problem. Let’s say it is not the same reading “Four quartets” from TS Elliot, than anyone else here, except some junkie or University Professor, knows who is, than reading “Fifty shades of Grey” that nobody around here, except some junkie or University Professor, is unknown about what it is. Nor is it reading an essay by Marshall Mcluhan about the global village or supporting his famous “the medium is the message” than the autobiography of Belén Esteban, a classic soap opera. That reading, even being effective to learn, labels each one even if one does not want. It is more, the mere act of reading, whatever it is, is a kind of labeling: “what a weird guy, he’s reading!”
c) Put the radar in “on” mode (let’s comment later).
d) Not to think of nothing, do nothing, not looking at anything else than the roof of the car or to an indeterminate point in the distance which usually is the center baluster that we grab to not drop when the subway moves.
This activity is highly recommended because it makes the mind to rest, but it carries two risks: a) I have lost the count of the times that I have spent long my destination station due to a resting excess; b) Sometimes I lose one’s head and I start to think about Las Vegas dancers writhing around in the center baluster and then do not rest the mind a fuck.
Well, one day I prefer the option “Radar on” and I have 7 stations to do it so I observe, yes, me, the one who needs binoculars to see an African elephant to five meters, I do observe.
The age of the passengers range from 15 to 70 or that tells me my brain after a furtive glance and a fleeting information processing. I think of them, I see their attire, their body language and their faces. About 40 people are in my view radio, that’s the figure that calculation with a margin of error of +/- five, for so I have a science degree. There is everything: I see cheerful faces, neutral faces, faces of bereaved, those transmitting only sadness, a blank stare which is scary, talking faces emphasizing what they say with gestures of their arms and their hands, more faces speaking but smiling as if the topics were something frivolous or unimportant, and I also see sick faces, a jaundice overflowing basins in their eyes, one with the wings of the butterfly of lupus erythematosus and other emaciated that does not forebode anything good.
The subway is a bustle of faces, bodies, attitudes. The subway is the underground city, a parallel world where the loneliness of the passenger travelling without company is revealed in all its breadth.
We go to bars (a lot), to clubs (I went), to gyms (it is like going to mass, an act of faith as time passes and there is no way to prevent its effects on human bodies) or to a cruise (if you get the money to cruise!) and we do, largely, to be in contact with other people, but the subway only takes us and empty us the soul (I mean only those who are not heartless) so we do not pay attention to the Irish musician who plays Molly Malone in the transshipment although he plays wonderfully.
So I’m pondering at all that, when I think (empathy!) which will be my face, my appearance and my body language because I have described them all, but I have not described myself.
The narrator in his astral journey has not taken a look to himself while he was bombarding with thoughts to his fellow travelers, but, however, today has confirmed something that unites us all the passengers of those wagons absent of poetry except the Irish singing “Molly Malone”: the mobile.
With the exception of those who speak or some caramelized couple, everyone looks his/her mobile permanently or intermittently.
I’ve seen someone reading a newspaper, but anyone reading a book, absolutely no one: it is not like in the old days.
Mobile definitely killed the book as the video did with the radio stars.