How about that…nuclear fission?

March 12, 2008 at 11:49 am (Uncategorized)

Have you ever noticed that small talk seems to assume that both parties have the intellect of a two-year-old?  My niece Maddison could conduct a better conversation than most professional adults who unexpectedly run into each other in Starbucks or the elevator and have nothing to say.

Female Executive: “We must be on the same schedule.  I run into you every morning.”

Male Executive: “I take the train.”

Female Executive: “Ah.  I take the T.”

Male Executive: “But somehow we are here at the same time.”

Female Executive: “Yes, we are.”

Male Executive: “I like the coffee.”

Female Executive: “Me too.”

You’d think that if they run into each other every morning, they’d have something to talk about besides the fact that they run into each other every morning.

Suit: “Bob, how are you?”

Second Suit: “Not bad, not bad.  Raining today.”

First Suit: “Noticed that.  When I left the house.”

Second Suit: “At least it isn’t snow.”

First Suit: “It was supposed to be.”

Second Suit: “But it isn’t.”

Thankfully, at that point, my drink was ready, and I was saved from hearing the rest of this exchange.

We’re all guilty of it.  I am.  But next time, maybe I’ll open with, “how about that new Secretary of Education?” and see what happens.  I guess the person is likely to blink and walk away.  But at least then I’d be saved from having to talk about how I noticed it was raining when I left my house.

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What Emergency Cord?

March 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm (Uncategorized)

This morning, while riding the T to the office (and late, as usual), I was riding standing and minding my own business, reading the Metro, and thinking about how the sports section doesn’t hold my interest when football season is so far away, when I heard a series of thuds and thunks from behind me.  I didn’t react, mainly because it’s the T, and it’s crowded and people thud and thunk a lot in general, particulary pre-caffeine.  Then someone said, “pull the emergency cord!”

So I turned around.  A young woman, maybe mid-20s was lying face down on the floor of the T.  There were no passengers sitting just there, and a space had cleared.  Another woman, older, crouched down and said again, “pull the emergency cord!”

Everyone started looking around for this phantom cord.  I looked.  I thought, what emergency cord?  Sure enough, I didn’t see any such thing.  Someone else said, “stand in the doors!”  Finally, someone came to their senses, and from the end of the car I heard, “wait!  The emergency intercom…it’s over here.”

The button was pressed, the driver called 911, a couple of T employees rushed in.  By this time, the young woman was sitting up, her head buried in her hands and resting on the seat.  She seemed to indicate that she was all right, thought she had fainted, but didn’t seem able to do much else.  She was helped off the train, and everyone went back to their own business to finish the commute.

Interesting that everyone seemed sort of shocked and unsure what to do.  The moment the words “emergency cord” were shouted, everyone started moving around and looking, interested in helping but probably in the same state I was in — what emergency cord?  Huh?  Emergency cord?  Sense and logic had gotten off the train two stops earlier.  There was perhaps thirty seconds of people staring around in confusion before things started clicking again: keep the doors from closing so the train doesn’t start moving, find some way to call emergency (and it doesn’t have to be a cord), find out if this fainting woman is all right, etc.

Makes me wonder about how I’d respond in a really crucial emergency.  How people respond in general.

Of course, this was pre-coffee for everyone one the train.  <Daily hoorah for caffeine.>

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And he said…

March 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Yesterday, I was in the car, making the 3.5 hour trip back to Boston from the Silas Griffith Inn in Danby, Vermont.  It’s a regular thing, this drive, since Wryanne and her kids live at SGI, and I can’t go too long without seeing them.  This time, however, I had a couple of passengers.  We talked.  A lot.  It’s a theme with us, particularly the guy in the front passenger seat. 

While swerving to avoid Labrador-sized potholes, I told him that I make note of things I observe while I go through my daily life: other people’s arguments, ridiculous outfits, weird situations, a particular image, things that make me laugh.  These things often make their way into the stories I write.

He said, “You should keep a blog about that.”


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