Talking to Strangers: On Trains

As I walked down the aisle trying to decide which seat to take on the train, I walked by two young guys speaking a foreign language.  I took the seat behind them, convinced they had a good story.  Though I’m convinced everyone has a good story…

I could not tell what language they were speaking but soon one of them pulled out a video camera and pointed it himself saying, “This is day two of our trip….” in perfect English – no hint of an accent.  Day two of a trip?  Oh how jealous I was!   Where were they going?  What was the occasion?  Where were they from?  I tried to read the book I had brought with me, but couldn’t concentrate as I was trying to catch anything from them that might answer my questions.

After a couple of stops, I scooted from my window seat, across the empty middle seat, sat in the aisle seat and peeked my head in between them.  “Excuse me,” I said, “but where are you two from?”  They looked startled for a minute, but then said the Netherlands.  I then asked what brought them here and about their trip.  One had just finished a year in the states, the other just a few months.  They decided to take this trip last year in math class when one proposed a trip around the US and the other said, “Sure!”  Why didn’t I have friends like this in high school?

They were going to the city, then to Niagara Falls, then out to Boston.  I said I lived in Boston for six years and they asked where they should go besides the Freedom Trail.  I gave them some advice, then got the sense they thought it a little odd that I was so excited about their trip, so I told them to have a good time as I scooted back to my seat.

A couple stops later a guy sat down in the aisle seat at the end of my row.  I got the smile and hello that invited conversation and dove in.  This guy has been working in the city for six years at an advertising company.  I found this odd as he was in jeans and sweatshirt, but he didn’t seem to want to talk about work, so we went on to other topics.  He made a comment about the guys in front of us and I proceeded to tell him their story.  At the part where I said I lived in Boston for six years he said he did too.  I said something about the Farmers Market and it turns out he’s a vegetarian and has been for 25 years.  We talked about cooking and got into fish – something I don’t know much about cooking but would like to learn.  He told me a couple places I could get fish, told me the best ones to start out preparing, and when asked gave me a couple ways to prepare them.  “You cover the chunks in a little milk, then you put together some corn meal, flour, salt and pepper.  Put them in that, then bake them.  That’s what they call ‘oven-fried.'”  Oven-fried?  I’d heard of that, I said, but had no idea what it was.  Hmph.  Who knew.

I got off the train to meet a friend for lunch.  We decided to head to one of the historic sites that had a cafe as well.  We got our admission ticket and headed for a tour of the manor house.  Then we were encouraged to tour the mill house.  Guess what they were milling?  Corn.  Guess what they were selling?  Corn meal.  Guess who bought some?  🙂   Not sure I’ll make some oven-fried fish, but some corn meal biscuits do sound good.

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