An Awkward Experience on the Subway

I was riding uptown on the R train this morning. It is local, so stops frequently. A young businessman sat across from me, a bit to my left. He was hunched over with his elbows on his knees. Let’s call him Derek. [That was the first name to pop into my head.] Derek wore a blue pinstriped button up shirt, tucked into grey pants. A belt fastened the pants so they wouldn’t fall down, I assume.

The subway doors opened at Prince Street. Onto the subway walked another young businessman, Matt. He dressed in a light blue button up tucked into grey pants. It was undeterminable if he wore a belt. It was apparent to me, and anyone else staring at them, that they knew each other. Derek stood up and said, “Hey Man”. They gave each other a “bro hand-shake”, where they grasp the other’s diagonally tilted right hand and pull each other in close. They give two pats on the other’s back. Then release. This is also known as, “bringing it in for the real thing”.

From their conversation, I found out the following: Derek and Matt are co-workers. Derek worked the whole weekend. Matt got wasted. [a.k.a. intoxicated] Matt didn’t even make it to work on Friday! Derek believes “It’s always good when you don’t make it to work on Friday.” After this minute and a half exchange of words, the conversation dulled. “The weather is so nice today,” Derek said.  

As soon as the conversation turned to weather, I knew the rest of their subway ride was doomed. Weather is the conversation of topic that people talk about when there is nothing left to talk about. [Unless you are a meteorologist or my 93-year-old grandma who is genuinely concerned about the weather] I cringed for them. I wondered which stop they were getting off. If their stop was next, their conversation would have a chance of being saved. They could continue being “bro” co-workers. If they had to wait more than one stop, things were going to get awkward. One of the two was going to have to step it up and think of things to say.

“You working on the Smith Project?” Matt asked as he gripped the metal pole. 1 point for Matt bringing up a new topic. “No, I’m working on a new deal that is just starting to heat up.” Derek responded. That’s a suspicious response, I thought. He was being so vague. I had hypothetical questions such as, “What kind of company did they work for? What constitutes a deal ‘heating up’? Who is Mr./Mrs. Smith and what project is he having these men work on?


Derek checked his pulse. Matt gripped the pole harder.

There was more silence. Both men shuffled back and forth on their feet. They looked up toward an advertisement for Learning Spanish Software.

The train pulled up to the stop where I get off, “Times Square”. The business boys were getting off at the same stop! They walked quickly ahead of me. They didn’t speak. I followed behind them to see where they were going. I had to speed walk and cut off an elderly man to get this picture.

They reached the escalator. Next to the escalator was a set of stairs. Matt headed toward the escalator. Derek went to take the stairs. Oh no! They were about to separate. Derek would surely reach the top of the steps quicker. Matt would be stuck behind sedentary escalator riders. What would Derek do for the 25 seconds he waited at the top of the stairs? Check his phone? Twiddle his thumbs? Stare into Matt’s eyes and make things more awkward?

Does he even have to wait for Matt at all? Of course he does!

Derek turned his head and said, “C’mon man! Take the stairs with me!”

With a hop-skip, Matt made a B-line to the stairs. They both ran in tandem up the stairs.

They were together again. All was right in the world. I ran up the stairs as well, due to the fact that yesterday I had to ask my mom to help button my shorts.

I lost track of the two men as soon as we entered into Times Square because I was distracted by a man who was shimming his shoulders, dressed as Elmo.

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0 thoughts on “An Awkward Experience on the Subway

  1. Like this story. I wish there was a sequel to the Derek/Matt saga. Not sure I can handle the suspense…

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