An upper-20-looking man is sitting on the left seat of the metro. He looks tired, defeated, and acts as if reading The New York Times in front of him is an obligation. At the next stop, an upper-20-looking woman boards the train and stands right in front of him. She is The New York Times, too, and she looks tired and defeated, too. She’s beautiful, with long blonde hair and defined facial features. The man notices her. His face lights up, he forgets the newspaper, and focuses on her. He smiles. About thirty seconds later, he obviously decides he had been looking at her too long, so he pretends to go back to reading some article. But less than a minute later, he looks back at her.
He laughs to himself, a laugh that seemed to say, “You look as tired and defeated as I do. Can we both just get out of here?” Two more stops went by, and the man kept looking up at her, then looking back down at his newspaper, then looking up, then back down, before finally giving up. He went back to his boring article and his own little universe, and he let his fatigue wash over him again. At this point, the woman finally looked up from her article. She was finished reading, and she was obviously just so done with being in her own world. She started glancing around the metro, and soon her eyes landed on this man. She noticed his defined muscles and the way his hair was perfectly styled, and she widened her eyes. She saw the way he looked like he was just not having it this morning, and she smiled in agreement. The conductor came over the speaker and said, “train now arriving to gallery place/chinatown station”. She snapped back to reality, and prepared to get off the metro. In a second, she was off, and the man looked up in time to see her blonde hair bobbing behind her as she briskly walked off the train.
This was a missed moment, guys. That man, he saw something in that woman. That woman, she saw something in that man. But they were both in their own little worlds. And they missed the moment. What if they were meant to be? What if that was supposed to be the story they would tell on their wedding day as the story of how they first met?
Or more simply, and probably more realistically, what if they could have connected over their fatigue and general boredom with the world and made each other’s day a bit brighter? Connection serves as a splash of serendipity, serenity, smiles to an otherwise typical day.
The irony here is that everyone on the metro was reading something, and everyone was bored and tired and just wanting to get to work, yet somehow these two connected in an even deeper way. Because they didn’t smile at anyone else. They didn’t look at anyone else. And although they didn’t step outside their worlds enough to connect, they briefly realized that a connection was worth having.
The power of vulnerability is almost more visible when you see what it could have done, whom it could have brought together.
With vulnerability, that man could have coughed and got her attention. With vulnerability, that woman could have looked back as she stepped off the train and waved at that man. With vulnerability, that man could have stepped off the metro too and handed her the cookie that was peeping out of his briefcase. With vulnerability, they could have grabbed each other’s newspapers, thrown them off the train, and admitted they weren’t reading them, anyway, and hi, what’s your name?
And so it goes, the first missed moment I witnessed on a Monday morning on the DC metro.
What moments are you missing?