This past weekend, my family and I made the trek up to the Bay Area to celebrate my great aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. Instead of driving or flying, my parents decided that we would take the train up to Santa Clara. This means that I spent twelve hours each way sitting on the train watching a lot of countryside pass by, which was fantastic because California is gorgeous. Travelling on the train, though, also means contending with the other people travelling on the train. When you're taking the train for a longer trip, you usually come across a rather odd mix of people. There was, for example, one woman who asked my sister to save a seat, and then left socks to make sure the seat would not be taken. There was a couple, seated directly in front of me, that chose to completely disregard all social qualms regard PDA. There was a woman who was on the phone probably 80% of the time, and who somehow managed to speak on the phone while it rang simultaneously.
Now I don't know if you've noticed this, but trains and planes often have huge, thrumming climate control systems that keep the space at an even 72 during the duration of your travel. These systems also serve the very noble purpose of dampening the sounds and conversations of the people around you. Unfortunately, the AC on the particular train that I was on yesterday kept shutting off at random intervals, meaning the gross smacking sounds from the couple in front of me (they're really into each other) and the woman's constant phone conversations from two seats up ("Was the zucchini big enough?") were all too audible.
With the loss of the white noise that had been muffling god knows what, I realized that we're often lulled into a false sense of security, leading us to act in public as we would in private. Let this serve as a reminder that trains, planes, buses, and other forms of public transport are, in fact , public (I know, shocking). So, before you decide to call up your podiatrist and detail the problem with your big toe or watch the latest episode of South Park without headphones, remember: you're not at home, you're sitting in a metal tube that's hurdling through space.