I said I’d never do it, but I did. It still surprises me that it happened to me.
The closest thing I ever experienced to culture shock was when we moved from Monterey, California, to Washington, DC. Those of you who have been reading with me from the beginning know I made the move under grave protest. We’d erroneously thought we were finally settled for life, but the government had other plans.
I’ve written about my commute to work with two men who were perfect strangers here. I also wrote about the time I had no idea my husband had bought a new car and how I rode to work thinking someone had been messing with my seat. You may read about my stint as Goldilocks here.
The majority of the time in DC, I rode the metro to work. I lived twenty-two miles from my office and, when I drove, it was a minimum one-and-a-half to two hours in the car each way on a good day. Bad days saw me in the car up to four hours each way. Life is just too short to spend that much time commuting to and from work. I hated spending valuable time stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I’d watched in wonderment as rider after rider slept on the metro yet each instantly knew when to wake to get off the train. The metro is at each stop for only a few moments so there’s no extra time to really wake up and know you’ve arrived at your destination.
One morning, I pulled what I always thought would be impossible for me. I’ll admit I was exhausted from working long hours and my husband had been in the hospital for well over a month.
I stepped into the metro car, located an empty seat and sat down and promptly went to sleep. Imagine my shock when I woke up at my correct stop and transferred to a connecting line on the opposite track. I was amazed and the adrenaline was flowing.
After finding a seat on the second metro car, I thought I probably should stay awake as we would be making several stops in DC that were less than desirable. It would take about thirty minutes to reach my destination.
Once again I fell asleep. I woke up, stunned. Not only had I fallen asleep but my head was on someone’s shoulder.
Dare I look?
On the metro, I’d been warned, never make eye contact and there I was with my head on someone’s shoulder! This couldn’t be good.
I sat up straight and turned to look at my ‘pillow.’ It turned out to be a stern looking, gray suited middle-aged man. Finding my voice, I stammered, “I’m so sorry. I apologize for . . .”
Deep throated laughter burst forth, and the man said, “I’m happy to accommodate. You must be tired. I’ll say this is a first and I’ve ridden the metro over twenty years.”
We did what we weren’t supposed to do; we talked until we reached our destination.
I’ve always wondered about the man in the gray suit. I hope he’s had a good life and I believe he would have become someone nice to know, perhaps someone with whom to share coffee and conversation.
I never fell asleep on the metro again after falling asleep on the nice man’s shoulder. I was afraid my luck wouldn’t hold the next time.