Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How introverts and extroverts ride on transit

Photo: Getty [Commuter reads a book from the Choose What You Read scheme. See "The Telegraph" story here.]

The introvert stands at the end of the platform, right where he knows the train doors will open. He doesn't push past other commuters, but moves with decision. This last car is less busy than the others.

Aha, a single seat that backs on a bulkhead. Great. He tucks his briefcase in beside his feet, pulls out his book and begins to read.

For a moment of blissful silence, our solitary commuter is absorbed in the drama of his novel, oblivious as more riders flow onto the train. Someone takes the single ahead of him.

Then across the aisle all hell breaks loose. Extroverts. They slap each other's backs and raise their voices in snatches of song. The car fills with a chorus of loud laughter.

Should he move? Surreptitiously, the introvert looks around. Nowhere to go. He glances at his watch. How can people be so noisy this early in the morning? Incredible.

More people are piling in. Crammed together, they sway as the train rocks into motion. They brace themselves, cling to the straps, buffering the noise across the way. Saved, thinks the introvert. Hey, this book is really quite interesting.

In the single seat ahead of him, a cell phone rings. A teenage girl with a high voice speaks into it, giggles loudly. He sighs. Closes his eyes briefly, then opens them, stares out the window. Breathes deeply, returns to his book.

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