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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Dark Truth About the Platform People

Though I take the train only occasionally, I generally travel on the same morning train into Los Angeles. I buy my ticket from the automated kiosk and join the closest line. Without fail, I'm preceded in that line by the same group of regulars; individuals that have shared their place on the platform for years. They've become great friends. They share family adventures, discuss their favorite television programs, and even engage in playful teasing. They'll observe other lines up and down the platform, speculating on the lives of their fellow travelers. On rare occasions, their association has reached beyond the platform to birthdays and other family events. 

There appears to a curious limit to their friendship, however.

One of them, though clearly a part of the group, retreats to her favorite, albeit less social, queue  a few minutes before the train arrives.

For those who remain at their traditional platform position, their association appears limited to the station.  Once they climb aboard the train, they say their goodbyes and go their separate ways. They don't appear to have independent onboard social groups. The car they choose to board each morning is the "quiet car," designed to discourage the sometimes raucous conversation they typically enjoy together.

It almost seems as if they need the independent time to cool down from their free, true selves, to their more repressed professional personas. There's no greater symbol of that transition than their enforced route as they step off the train, then walk down a crowded ramp and into a narrow concrete tunnel. Fellow passengers shuffle slowly through the passage, anonymous cogs in a mindless machine.

Those last few moments on the platform in Santa Clarita, perhaps, offer them a desperate last gasp of humanity before darkness descends. 

That's my theory, anyway.

I could be wrong.


  1. "... they need the independent time to cool down from their free, true selves, to their more repressed professional personas..."

    See, I thought it was that they need the quiet time to return to their true, free, inner selves, following the forced, stressful socializing on the platform.

    But I could wrong too.