Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Generation Gap

It must be a generational thing.

I am all about building social capital. I have heeded the lessons in Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone and understand that camaraderie is key to a successful society. I also know how important it is to interact with people when going through daily activities. However, there are times when privacy is important. After a long day, sometimes a girl just needs to decompress on the train.

I use my commute as 'Me Time.' I listen to whatever I want on the radio, read, write, or just zone out. In the morning, I have 30 minutes or so to get my head in the game. In the afternoon I take that time to let the day go and relax before heading home to enjoy my night with Josh.

To show that the train ride is all about me, I sit down in my seat, put my headphones on, and put my nose in a book. In my opinion, this is the perfect way to ride home and to show that I am not in the mood for chit chat. Apparently the older gentleman sitting next to me did not get the social cues I was sending out. He pulled out the tomato sauce recipe his late wife used to make for him and proceeded to tell me every type of meal that the sauce worked well with.

Of course I listened and engaged with this gentlemen. Despite wanting my 'Me Time,' I'm glad I listened  to him and took the time to chat with him. It was clear that he needed to talk about his wife and that this sauce was important to him. It made him happy to share his story, and I have to admit, the recipe looked pretty good. It was also nice to know that by taking the time to listen, I was making his hard time just a little easier. By the end of my ride, I was sad that I had to leave this man alone...and that I had not taken the time to write the recipe down. I sincerely hope that the next person to sit in my seat chatted with this man and help keep his spirits up.

Don't get me wrong, tomorrow I will be back to the typical 20-something train riding pose by being completely introverted. I will also hope that there is no generation gap mix-up and no one tries to engage with me when I am hoping to have some space. But for this time, I'm glad I took the time to take off my headphones, put my book away, and put this gentleman first.

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