So last time I updated, I told you of a way to have fun on the subway. That is, playing Texas Hold 'Em. People were cheering me on, and it felt like everyone wanted to be my friend, even with their constructive criticism.
"Go Rev! This pink confetti is for you! You sissy girl! Hooray!"
But the other day I felt the opposite of that. I was going home and it seemed like no one wanted to be my friend. I wasn't playing Texas Hold 'Em, or any game, video or otherwise. I was reading.
Sure, people generally leave you alone when you're reading, but there's always people who like to read over your shoulder.
At least I think that's what's going on in this picture.
It's incredibly common when you're reading a newspaper, but still happens when you have a book. Reading books on the subway is a slightly different experience from reading newspapers.
First off, you don't have to be an origami artist to avoid elbowing people in the face.
"Hey, could I borrow the sports pa- you know what, never mind."
Also, there's sometimes eye contact made with other people who are reading, when you look up from your book at the same time as someone else. It's sort of a silent high five, where in the .25 seconds you both say "Yeah! Reading is awesome!"
Also, reading a book on the subway makes me feel good about myself. It's more productive than doing nothing, and a lot safer than sleeping.
So the other day I was reading on my way to and from work. But I wasn't getting that sense of camaraderie. People weren't reading over my shoulder for more than a glance. I had no solidarity amongst the other members of the MTA Book Club. In fact, I even received a few glares, or at least wary looks.
This is the best picture I could find of a wary look. The subtext is all wrong, though.
So what was it? What could I be doing wrong? I was being quiet, my pants were on properly, my book was suitably highbrow... oh wait.
Maybe that's it.
I got similar reactions when I was reading this book at the laundromat, and also at the elementary school playground.
Warning: Fat children on right.
But I guess I understand what's going on. People are super defensive in this town, especially on the subway, and with very very good reason.
One just needs to to listen to the automated sexual assault announcements on the train to know how bad things have been/are:
“Ladies and gentlemen, a crowded subway car is no excuse for sexual misconduct. If you feel you have been the victim of a crime, please notify a police officer or an MTA employee. Remain alert and have a safe day.”
I propose a new one: "Ladies and gentleman, a crowded subway car is no excuse for sexual misconduct. Start screaming: "Pervert! Hey everyone, this perv just grabbed my ______! Let's all kill him! Pervert!"
"I said hands off!"
That being said, we should reserve this treatment for those who actually commit a crime, rather than reading a controversial novel. I understand your concern, subway riders.
I don't have too much more to go on that book, but maybe I should stick to subway books without that kind of subject matter/connotation.
OK, fine. How about something completely innocent and unobjectionable?
Ok, I give up. Back to video games.