>Reading over your shoulder

February 18, 2011 § Leave a comment


Recently I was riding the train home from a long day. Next to me, this young hipster scribbled ferociously in his little notebook. I tried to nonchalantly read what he was writing; his handwriting was too messy. How can I explain how obvious it was that he was hoping someone would take notice? I’ve never seen someone perform writing as much as this guy.

So anyway, the train is slowly moving along until we are about to arrive at Bedford. Of course he’s going to get off in Williamsburg. Where else? I look down one more time, hoping I can just get a sense of what all the fuss is about. And suddenly I watch him write, “If you’re reading this right now–” but before he finishes his sentence, I look away. Then he snaps his notebook shut, gets off the train, and stands on the platform, watching me as the train pulls out of the station.

I couldn’t read his expression and I was too afraid to spend much time trying. Guilt, confusion, and anger hit me all at once. Was he expecting privacy on the train? Should I have minded my own business? Did it make a difference since I couldn’t read his handwriting?

Ultimately, I don’t think I did anything wrong. Eavesdropping and picture-taking are standard protocol on the train.

I’d like to put this mystery to rest. I wish I had been brave enough to finish reading his sentence.


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