I saw my neighbor on the subway this morning, and we didn’t say hi. We’ve held doors for each other, hung out on the stoop during a fire false alarm, and I even helped him carry a package up one day.
But outside the confines of cup o’ sugar niceties, New York norms of anonymity and eye evasion blanketed the exchange. I’m increasingly amazed by the powerful daily habit of turning subway strangers into dehumanized foreign objects, those who share your breathing space but heaven forbid you are required to engage on any level beyond excuse me’s and HOLD THE DOOR!
Is it a survival mechanism? Does too much humanity overwhelm? I found myself saddened by the anticlimactic unmoment. Ironic, perhaps, for someone who met her boyfriend on the Boston T.