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Crowded Train Chronicles: Attack of the Pickpocket

Updated on February 26, 2014

Weary and Worn Out

Ashton is extremely tired. He's had an extremely long day at work, and he's had to do overtime without being paid for it. He is irritable, and he just wants to get home as soon as possible and crash on his bed. After all, like everyday, he has an extremely tiresome day ahead of him tomorrow,

A Coach of Zombies

Ashton commutes between home and work by the metro, and it is always crowded.

The coaches of each train are filled with irritable people who have to put up with other irritable people. After all, everyone likes a bit of air. Jostling for space is not what we were meant to do.


Today, as usual, Ashton catches the 8.45 train. It will take him an hour to get home, and he will be back on the train at 8.45 tomorrow.

Finding himself a reasonably dignified standing position, Ashton tries to outlast the journey. At every station, hordes of people exit the coach and hordes of people replace them.

Reminiscence

Ashton has no energy. All he wants is to get home and crash, but he can't help but think of his days at college. Of that one girl with whom he always managed to make a fool of himself. Of that one girl who initially seemed fascinated by him, but eventually left him in the world, an orphan unable to express his emotions.

She had told him all sorts of things about herself. that she was a professional personal and extremely outgoing. That she was hardworking. That she had lost her father just a few years ago. He had been immediately drawn to her, although he never expressed it, and she never came to know about it.

He still misses her although it's been ages since they've been in touch. He wishes there was something he could do to make her want to meet him again. He wishes that a couple of years down the line, they'd run into each other.

But for the moment, he doesn't know where she is, or what she does.

She was fascinating before, and still fascinated him, although he didn't know where she was or what she was doing.
She was fascinating before, and still fascinated him, although he didn't know where she was or what she was doing. | Source

More Ashton

Ashton isn't particularly rich. Actually, he's not rich at all. He likes to describe himself as being 'middle class'. He's less than average really, although not a pauper. He gets along from month to month. He gives most of his monthly earnings to his mom. He doesn't make plans for lunches with his friends because he hardly has any. And his work schedule wouldn't allow him.

Ashton is a copywriter in a small ad agency. He sits and stares into the computer screen all day. Sometimes he gets up and walks around the office with a notepad and a pen, hoping for some faint glimmer of an idea to show itself in his mind.

Ashton loves music. He yearns to become a composer soon, but he needs to learn the craft better before that is even remotely possible.

A Writhing Mass of People

He can't look out of the window because the coach is simply too crowded. He must count the number of stops to guess when he must get off. Everyone is shoulder to shoulder. He is not even in a position to put his hand into his pocket to retrieve his mobile if it were to ring. Everybody is jostling for space.


Almost There

And he's almost reached. He must get off at the next stop. He carefully maneuvers himself towards the door, a task easier said than done. He steps on many toes and has to keep apologising. He can't help it though. Many people step on his shoes and don't apologise. He wonders if they will be good to wear tomorrow.

As the train comes to a halt, the surge of humanity gushes out of the compartment, being checked only by the impatient surge of humanity into the compartment. Finally, he is out, and can breathe the fresh air instead of the odour of his neighbours.

A Startling Discovery

As has always been his habit, he puts his right hand into his right pant pocket. He can't find his wallet. He puts his left hand into his left pocket. His phone is there but not his wallet. He is flustered. He looks in his backpack, but it isn't there. He doesn't even know how much money was there in the first place, because he's never believed in keeping a track of his money. It's gone.

Mission Impossible

He knows it's gone. He knows he won't be able to find it. Searching would only be a waste of time and energy. The cops won't help, because they never do. He knows they would only chide him for not taking enough care of his possessions. He must keep going. There's nothing he can do. The thief is probably already two stations ahead.

The Victor

Sean knows he's done it again, and well at that. He's always been proud of his nimble fingers. No one's ever found out. He makes way more money than Ashton. Possessing a valid ticket is all he needs to worry about.

He hasn't opened it yet, so he does. 2 dollars and fifty cents.

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    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Thank you for the very meaningful observation! It's a difficult world out there, but it isn't entirely hopeless.

    • rohanfelix profile image
      Author

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      @tobusiness

      Thank you for the interesting thought! I especially liked the term 'Packed Sardines'. Very evocative!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Well written such that I can feel the dread and claustrophobia of getting on that train each day. Some of our lives are so much harder than others. There are always the "Seans" of this world, but the challenge is to never let them beat your spirit down.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I'm so glad I no longer commute to London, I can feel the panic rising just reading this excellent piece. I suppose when we travel like packed sardines it's easy for those thieving fingers, I'd love to have seen his face as he counted his wages. Nicely done.