I boarded the 8:16 out of Hawthorne today, slightly off my game after a four-day weekend. Seat choices 1, 2 and 3 were taken, so I ventured into the next car.
The car held about 30 middle-aged people with red, white and blue neckerchiefs–bandana-type thingees knotted under their chins. Several held cardboard boxes with handles, like the type that holds your donut holes, on their laps. I spied one and it said Turkey.
I assumed the whole gang of folks, not quite senior citizens but close, were from Turkey. I wondered if I should grill them about their treatment of the Armenians and that controversial G word. I sat a row behind them and caught sight of another one of the boxes on another lap. This one said “Ham.” Yes, the tourists were bringing their box lunches from the suburbs to the city, to avoid those scary delis with their scary workers making scary mile-high sandwiches.
The people were English and had every last trapping of Tourists: the sensible shoes, the guidebook on the lap, the fanny pack. They wondered the best way to get downtown safely, and debated whether they had time to visit Ground Zero.
A bunch of people got on in White Plains, and some attempted to infiltrate the Brits’ partial occupation of a six-seater. A middle-aged man, glasses, suit, a bit fey, sat in the middle. He looked around to size up the sash-wearing tourists.
“You guys spies or scouts?” he deadpanned.
“A bit of both,” responded one of the women, keeping that trademark British upper lip stiff.
A few minutes later, the ticket-taking conductor got in on the action.
“You guys are that English motorcycle gang, right?” he said. “The Flaming Skulls?”
The group smiled.
“Our bikes are in the back,” responded one of the men.
The White Plains guy in the middle of the six-seater jokingly suggested the group skip the city and check out White Plains instead, and regaled them about the history of White Plains–something about low-lying land and a perpetual shroud of fog that made it seem white.
On we went to the city–another day of work for most of us, a fun day of sightseeing and tasty box lunches for others.