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Rhonda Herrington Bulmer
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Bulmer
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August 16th, 2016
Subway Etiquette
by Rhonda Herrington Bulmer

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Subways are underground transport lines.

They move groups of busy strangers from place to place.

Home to work. Work to home.

Here to there and back again.

Subways are endless grids of stops and starts.

So be advised, they are not social places.

Do not smile at strangers—they might think you’re insane—or worse, that maybe you’re interested.

Blank looks only, please.

You may look at the floor, or through the window or at the posters on the walls.

You may read a book, or close your eyes while your private music plays.

You may sleep, but only lightly, while you clutch your knapsack to your bosom.

Do not speak—except to the person who hopped on the train with you, and then only in subdued tones.

This is routine, the quiet place. Life pauses in the grid from here to there.

The lady next to me was eating salad.

She had wild, blond blender hair that bounced round her face while she chewed.

She wore office clothes with flip flops, along with a weary expression—perhaps her day was not over?

Her salad smelled of garlic and vinaigrette and parsley and I was hungry, but I didn’t dare ask her for the recipe or where she was going next or why she had to wolf it down.

Because of subway etiquette.

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