An Unforeseen Dinner for One

MTA subways tend to be packed in the morning and evening rushes, conditions a Swiss guy with some China experience lumps in with those in Shanghai and Beijing. Commuting seems to be a highly individual and personal thing here in New York, little short of a private occasion. People, albeit permanently compelled to fight for space shoulder to shoulder, seem to use this timeframe as a slack to recover from the energy killers on its both ends: work and family. The faces look tired, but relieved. It is not uncommon to find oneself in a completely crowded, but amazingly quiet subway car.

On one of those Friday evenings, riding the 7-train back home, I was standing there, tired, groggy, lost in thought, holding on to the pole. After a while, two students standing right next to me asked me something. Silence. I didn’t pay attention, so they repeated their question whether I would consider it weird if somebody offered me two packs of cupcakes, right now, just like that. They came across as if they worked on a psychology project at their institute, so I tried to give them an honest answer to this short description of a rather hypothetical situation: “Yes, that would be somewhat creepy.”

Next thing I held in my hand was a plastic bag with – guess what – packaged cupcakes. Although my new friends (reading from their faces) expected a more enthusiastic response, they apparently decided to complete their planned mission. The explanation was that they had eaten half of the stuff in the afternoon and that they were about to throw it away anyway. I overacted my confusion, had a quick chat, thanked, and decided to give the cupcakes a shot. Back home, I began with a thorough examination.

Being approached by strangers in the Big Apple is anything but unusual. It happens all the time out in the streets and public squares, which is a big difference to my home country. It was the first time though I experienced it in that unique sphere of MTA subway cars. Having the common-sense-mode on, I see such encounters as a positive thing, – especially in times that are characterized by a black eye, a hopefully-not-broken-but-certainly-sprained toe, and other minor and major personal worries. It was a night I just chilled and then passed out, but I will remember it as an evening I had a fine dinner consisting of four high-calorie cupcakes coming out of nowhere.

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