The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Personal Space

At mid-morning, the U-Bahn platform was nearly abandoned. The young woman with ceaseless layers walked to her usual waiting place and stopped. From this point, her transfers to other subway lines would be most efficient. From feet to head: boots, legwarmers, long socks, tights, a skirt, a jacket, a sweater, armwarmers, gloves, a scarf, a hat–despite the bundling up, from her shoulders to the ground she made a lean European line.

She glanced at the clock over the platform and smiled. Delighting in the four minutes before arrival, she unwound her headphones and set a whimsically serious daydream on her face.

Four tourists buried in a guidebook and map came down the stairs behind her. They toted closed umbrellas, which doubled as weapons that could kindly impale their neighbors while huddling over maps. They moved as a collective group with pale wheat hair, sensible winter walking shoes, glasses down on their noses. Without looking up for a place at the platform, they settled in just next to the girl in her layers.

Snapped from her musical reverie, she eyed them. She moved a bit away, not too abruptly. She just took a small step and a slide to the right, which they seemed instinctively to mirror. They shifted as well, though remaining fixed on the map, the transit plan, the opportunities. Despite the wide-open spaces to wait for the train, they stayed close to her, right behind her. She tugged some of her layers and became impatient, glaring down the track or up at the clock, no longer able to enjoy her platform solitude.

-Vienna, Austria

dritte mann tour, third man, Vienna

4 comments on “Personal Space

  1. suej
    August 6, 2013

    Excellent observation! I do like my personal space in a queue, but some people just don’t get it!

  2. Alexander Raggio
    October 6, 2013

    And then she had a heat stroke.

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This entry was posted on December 14, 2011 by in Europe, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .

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