Strangers on a train

I like long train journeys because they provide me with the time to read books, magazines and newspapers.

Once, on a train in Germany, I was reading a newspaper or a news magazine. Across the table sat a man who was looking at me from time to time, so I decided to offer him one of my newspapers when he glanced at me again: “Do you want to have one of the papers to read?”

“No, I don’t read newspapers. They are a waste of time.” he replied, a tad too harshly for the occasion, and continued to stare out of the window.

“A waste of time compared with doing nothing?” I asked after a few minutes. The look I earned as a response was something between unfriendly and non-comprehending.

The rest of the journey passed in silence until the non-reader got off the train a few stops later, not without a friendly “Good Bye” from myself.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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6 Responses to Strangers on a train

  1. John Erickson says:

    Some people want to expand their education. Some people want to expand their world view. And some people just want to sit. I learned to ignore people like that, when I was commuting on a train into the city of Chicago. Only thing worse than lumps are “chatty Cathys” (of either gender) who want to tell you their life’s story. Be pleasant, ignore the idiots, and go on with your day. Their loss!

    • These “chatty Cathys” are actually another reason why I always have reading material with me. Perfect for ignoring people without being impolite.

  2. Michael C Hunt says:

    obviously an editor? If he were, he was talking about his own newspaper clearly! Andreas, can I ask which route this was and in which country, that would be interesting. It’s always fascinated me to try to understand how the world would be if nobody read the newspaper.

  3. I tend to attribute pecularities like the one you report to a category I call “German unkindliness” which is quite common and one of my reasons to emigrate. This would imply a different reading that sees the silence of your fellow-traveller as the result of his embarrasment for being caught while scrutinizing fellow travellers.

  4. Pingback: German Court allows Racial Profiling | The Happy Hermit

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