Sometimes you’re paranoid for a reason

Croton Harmon train yard

I like window seats best on Metro-North. That should be obvious. But they come at a premium. You see, directly overhead is the luggage rack, where riders are encouraged to place their coats and briefcases and Duane Reade bags so they don’t take up precious space meant for tired commuters.

This is, of course, a smart feature and one more of us should use. We don’t really need to clutch our backpacks to our chests or give our Ginza Tanaka ( purses—fancy as they may be—their own seat.

But I always cringe when a fellow commuter removes his outerwear and hoists it over my head onto the rack. I think inevitably about dust mites, bedbugs, strands of hair and bits of sloughed-off skin wafting down on me. You think this is nutty, the sign of a Howard Hughes–like obsession. I did too.

Then, one morning, I am seated so happily at the window. The train pulls into Croton. A somewhat plain but neatly attired gentleman tucks into my row. He removes his trench, folds it in thirds, and with a quick toss, launches it onto the rack above my head. And quite softly, like a Forrest Gump feather, a large, gray nail clipping (big toe? thumb?) drifts into my lap. There the crescent lies for a brief moment, until with an internal yelp, I dash the offensive debris to the floor. Without a glance toward my seatmate, I return to the crossword, a little nauseated, a little vindicated.

I still take a window seat whenever I can. But I’m glad for the warm weather and the ever-increasing number of commuters in shirtsleeves.


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One Response to “Sometimes you’re paranoid for a reason”

  1. Susan F Says:

    You could get one of those hats with an umbrella on the top. Or, put a garbage bag on the overhead rack over your head when you sit down….

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