I always took the Metrolink to work in downtown Los Angeles. I lived about forty miles from downtown, and I found that taking the train was a lot faster, easier on my nerves, and easier on my budget than sitting in rush hour traffic for a couple of hours. From the train station, I took the subway a few miles. That took about five minutes.
It was great. The train was seldom crowded at first, till people got wind of it, and soon, it was crowded, so they added more trains. Then, they added more trains going back in the afternoons, and more people started taking the Metrolink.
What happened, though, one early summer afternoon, was very interesting.
I had half the day off, and I left work early. I waited for the train, and I knew that the early trains going back toward my home were usually quite empty. I would have plenty of room to stretch out in one of the upper cars that had a small table in the center.
When I got on the train in Union Station, it was virtually empty. There was no one in the table car at all, and I went and sat down, putting my briefcase on the table in front of me. The train wasn’t going to be leaving for another fifteen minutes, so I took the opportunity to go over some paper work from my briefcase. I got lost in what I was doing, and my reverie was broken by the voice of the engineer, telling us we would be making our first stop in twenty minutes.
I looked up as the train started out of the station. For the first time, I noticed that I wasn’t alone in the compartment. There was a rather youngish looking black man sitting across from me and one seat up. He smiled as I looked over at him. I smiled back, and his smile got a little broader. He nodded his head, as if to say, “Hello,” and I nodded back.