Monday, February 26, 2007

Shared Ride Social Scenes

Yesterday I took Amtrak to Baltimore. It's an easy drive, but I am committed to taking public transit whenever possible. Sometimes it costs more, sometimes less, but I think it's important. More difficult than the question of dollars is the question of time - but even at its schleppiest, I still like the chance to read instead of drive.
Yesterday provided a series of delightful spontaneous connections. Leaving the train station in Baltimore I asked if anyone was headed to the Craft Show, and a lovely lady answered yes - so we shared a taxi and we had a great chat en route and she shared her strategy of how to do the 800+ exhibitor show.
At the show I bumped into an old friend from New York City. We shared a taxi back to the train and had an hour to catch up while we waited. Since the weather was bad and two trains were sold out, I opted for the Acela, Amtrak's luxury train. The Acela is really beautiful, with a European feel. To me it's not worth the extra money just to save a few minutes, but I've decided that if it's the next train leaving to take it - the old time-is-money equation.
The only seat I could find was as the 4th in a configuration of two seats of 2 facing each other, with a table in the middle. Three women were sitting there, obviously traveling together. It could have been very awkward, since they were close friends chatting away, but they were totally open and friendly. It turned out we had tons in common, even including children at the same college.
So in addition to my scoring at the Craft Fair, this was a very nice exercise in building social connections, something of which there is quite a paucity of when we each drive alone in our cars.

One of the reasons there was such a comfortable camaraderie in these cases is class. Who goes to craft fairs? Who rides the Acela?

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