Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Overheard on the train last week

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

I commute to work every day via public transportation (read: the subway) (read: I swore I was done doing the whole subway thing) (read: misery -- but it could be worse; I could be riding the bus). I could go on at length about how much I detest public transportation, and how much I loath commuting in general, but I'll admit it's good for one thing: Eavesdropping on people's conversations. Yes, I'm one of those subway riders who will take out her pen and paper and begin transcribing, verbatim, exactly what you're saying to your friend sitting next to me (except I'm stealthily covert about it; you'd think I was writing out a grocery list if you were actually paying attention). In other words: continue talking, people. You give great fodder for characters in future books.

In fact, these conversations are one of the reasons that compelled me to buy a Droid smartphone two days ago (the other reason? I needed something for private use at work, but that's beside the point). Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I'd ever own a smartphone. I'm not a texter, and I've always used my old-school cell phone for what it was intended for: talking. But since my handwriting looks like rabid chicken scratches when I attempt to keep up with the nearest chatter/compose any sudden story ideas I get on the way home, I needed something more stealth and streamlined.

...Something I could use to transcribe one such conversation that I overheard last week:

SCENE: 5:15pm. Subway car barrels beneath the SF Bay en route home from the city. Two college freshman (or sophomores, I wasn't sure) are seated next to me, chatting loudly about their lives and places in the world. Middle-aged men and women, peering over their opened books and Blackberrys, study them as they speak. Me: incognito next to them, wearing big black sunglasses (though we are in a tunnel), reporter's pad and pen clutched in hand, waiting for conversation to continue....

Girl 1 (dark-haired a la Bella Swan from Twilight, in hipster clothing, and insists on ending every sentence with a higher inflection, as though she'd tacked a question mark to each one of her sentences):

"...I don't know though? There are, like, a lot of negatives to wanting to be on Broadway? And, like, that's why I'm afraid of double-majoring, but, like, I know that interior design is a good fallback major. I haven't really researched it, like, that much...but, like, I think I'd like it? It, like, looks really fun? Plus we're still, like, in college so I still have, like, a couple more semesters to change my mind."

Girl 2 (blonde, in similar hipster garb, strangely shares her friend's higher-inflection-at-end-of-each-sentence syndrome):

"For our generation it's, like, so competitive? In my mom's generation just, like, going to, like, college would, like, get you a job afterward, you know? I, like, wish that was still true? They had it, like, so easy?"

Girl 1:

"Like, I envy those people who, like, knew what they wanted to do as early as high school and, like, studied it in college? Like, I wish it could just be easy like our parents' generation, you know?"

Girl 2:

"I wish I could, like, fast forward to the part in life where I already have, like, a nice car and, like, a house and everything? But I'm still not, like, sure about my major? I just, like, don't know what I want to do for the rest of my life. Like, I can't make that kind of decision. It's so...like...permanent."

Girl 1 nods and they smile at each other, sharing a moment.

At the next stop the doors opened and they stepped off, clutching their Urban Outfitters shopping bags and iPods and cotton hobo bags with witty environmental sayings printed on them. And suddenly, to all those middle-aged people in that subway car, the future seemed at once dizzying and terrifying.

11 comments:

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

I *love* people watching and eavesdropping. Love it!

Markus said...

The future is, like, in good hands.

Seriously, these girls just expect to get a job that will pay them to afford great cars and houses?

They sound so uneducated, they would be lucky to have a job at GAP

High Class, Low Income said...

Don't you just love BART for the people watching alone? ;)

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

Oh I love eavesdropping as well.... I need to add dark glasses to my wardrobe like you though. ;-)

Funny how when you're in college you want to be over and done with (ironically, I just wrote an entire blog post about missing my college days earlier today too? weird!!) and then when you've been out of school for ten years like I have, you wish you could go back.... have a do-over.... made more of the time you spent there.

As ignorant as those girls sound, I think many of us wish we could fast-forward or rewind back a portion of our lives. That's why they say the present is a gift. We're hardly ever living in the present moment. And maybe the "older generation of their moms" really did have it better -- no technology distractions and spoiled attitudes to keep them from working hard and making a difference! Hmmm.... something to think about and listen to on the next subway ride --

The Non-Student said...

I can't decide if reading "like" that many times or actually hearing it in conversation is worse. So irritating.

Akirah said...

Hhahhahaha! Awesome. People like that amuse me so much.

Nicole said...

I love your descriptions of everything! This conversation was like hilarious like. These girls better hope they land an MTV show. Great work, I hope to hear more awesome conversations.

Carolyn said...

OMG i HATE when girls speak that way so it sounds like they are constantly asking questions!!! It drives me SO crazy, and I'm not trying to be a hater, but most girls I meet that do that are Asian. BAH!!!

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

Hey there... I have an award for you at my blog! Come check it out! :)

Jimmy said...

I hope I'm not the only guy that reads this blog, cause I'd be taking a huge risk commenting lol. Anyway, keep up the good work!

Amber said...

Wow. I think one of their, "like", relatives was in my hospitality class last semester, lol. Silly kids.

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