… And Let Us Fall Apart
by Catalin CROITORU
I am a fervent subway user in my city. Not because I was “convinced” by the transportation company’s ads (that are saying something like “Travel by bus or by metro and save our Planet”…), but because is much faster than covering the same distance by my personal car. However underneath there’s another reason for me to board on a subway train: these people I am sharing the same wagon with are fascinating me!
That’s because I have noticed that the travelers, once underground, are totally different from what they seemed like when I look at them up there, outside. The transformation starts when they are reaching the boarding platforms. If they were talking to each other, friends or pals, on the way down – they become silent quickly while they are waiting for the train to come; if lovers were holding hands while descending the ramps and the stairs – they soon become estranged once the lowest point was reached, and their eyes are ignoring repeatedly the beloved ones because the interest was moved towards the rail tracks in a permanent checking for the expected train; if the future passengers were smiling or displayed a happy-mimic while they are using the mechanical stairways – everything is vanished away in a bit the first step was put on the concrete platform of the subway stop.
Those changes are obvious and intriguing. It’s like people are wearing some “masks” or “human makeups” at the surface, while they are roaming the sidewalks of Montreal, and these wearings are taken away by an invisible hand once underground; it’s like an army of robots starts to curdle during the waiting of the train, while the train is moving from a station to another, and all the way up to the light, again. When the street level is reached that “happy-face-for -the-display” is put back into its place.
What caused this change? I asked myself for years – but I am not sure I got the right answer. Firstly I thought the mood changing was caused by the tunnel itself; being separated by the real world by layers of concrete and steel, depending on some tungsten lamps to see where you moving – that could be stressful and disturbing.
But the fear and the insecurity tends to make us more avid for the human contact; a train boarding should not determine the lovebirds to abandon each other’s hand, but on contrary – it should make them grab avidly the other one’s palm in order to get some comfort…