On the train

On walks an old man, tall but frail in a yellow jacket over a maroon hoodie and a baseball cap fastly secured atop head. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Except for one thing: This man has his right cheek and part of his jaw all bandaged up haphazardly. He is also quite wrinkly and saggy, age spots, past 75, I'm certain. It looks frightening, so I don't look long enough to figure out what might be underneath.

He sits down, diagonal behind me and is soon greeted by another old man.

"Hey what is that? You got a sore under there?!?" he calls out, rudely.

Bandaged man mumbles back (because I don't think he can open his mouth correctly), "Yes."

"I got that too! A few weeks back. I know about that. You goin to the doctor's or what?"

"Yes, Stanford...going right now."

"Good for you, they'll take care of it. I got it done over at (someplace) by some Chinese lady. She fixed it up."

. . .

and then silence. because bandaged man wasn't feeling particularly chatty today, or maybe there was just nothing left to say.

Minutes later, rude oldie gets up at the Menlo Park stop, but before he passes bandaged man, he blurts out a "BYE," in the most robotic, stern way possible.

I'm not sure bandaged man replies. You know, I'm almost certain he doesn't.
. . .

This wasn't supposed to be an enlightening story. It just made me think... old men are probably lonely. should they be taking the train to see a doctor on a rainy wednesday by themselves? was that rude man sane? have you ever started a conversation with a stranger on public transportation? what have you wanted to say to a stranger?

Authorjustine lee