I take the last subway car. It is the closest car to my final subway stop. There are only a few people in the car, so I sit in an open section of three seats. Everyone likes their space in subway cars. Only in rush hour do legs and shoulders press together uncomfortably- each passenger sitting patiently looking straightforward. Some sit on the edge of their seats to avoid contact.
There is a man sitting in the section of three seats across from me. He holds a square styrofoam container in his hand with the remains of his dinner. He sits sideways in his seat facing the empty perpendicular seats. He casually speaks, moving his free hand up and down. He speaks to the empty seat in a language that I do not understand. Intermittently throughout his conversation he raises a chicken bone to his mouth, scavenging the remains. His fingers get greasy and his conversation gets intense. I wonder what it is about. I keep my head down but raise my eyes in his direction. His conversation ends as the car slows to its next stop.
The bell rings and the doors start to open. I have been through this repetition many times – the doors always open at the same slow speed. Before my stop I usually stand right before the parting of the doors anxiously waiting until the space is large enough to fit through. I get out quickly to make room for the passengers waiting to rush the doors to enter the car.
This man with the white styrofoam container stands in the same spot I usually do, his jacket slowly slipping off his shoulder. As the doors start to open, he puts his hand in the small space between them, forcing the door to open faster with no avail. He steps out and casually walks through the tunnel to the exit, his jacket making its way down his back, his meal still securely in his hand.