Thursday, September 30, 2004

soon to be a major motion picture

What I like about this place is that there is never a dull moment. Take this morning for example. I decided I’d like to get into the City earlier than usual today. It so happens that doing this allowed me a good deal of free time at New Haven before my train boarded.

Walking into the station I see a smartly dressed lady holding a microphone in front of a commuter’s face. A casually dressed, heavier man aims a camera with a very bright light at him. On the cameraman’s T-shirt, the news-channel logo bears a stylized number “8.”

The newsstand wasn’t open yet so I headed for a bench. As I set my bag down the lady approaches me with some breezy yet purposeful smalltalk. I knew she’d be over. “I knew you’d come over here,” I allowed with a smile. She begins soliciting my opinion about the condition of the trains. “Would you say the trains are run down?” “No, I think they are adequate”. The cameraman aims the bright light at my eye. “What if I told you there would be new trains next week, how would that make you feel?” “That would be nice.” “Are you a commuter?” “Yes.”

The impression I got was that she was doing a commercial for the railroad. I answered her questions evenly, honestly, and with about as much enthusiasm as you’d expect from a commuter who showed up early for 5:40 am train, but she wanted more. “There’s going to be more room,” she offered, hopefully. “Great. Will our fares be going up?” “Would you say the trains are in poor condition?” “Well, maybe some remodeling of the lavatories would be nice…”

Her questions were delivered with the intent of eliciting a specific response from me. It seemed like what she wanted to hear was what her next subject said: "Yeah, it's about time. I've been riding this train for years and it's been going downhill all the time. And those seats!" But because I had no complaints, I felt almost compelled to say, "I'm sorry for not answering the way you want me to...", so strong was the expectation she communicated (without saying it). Instead, I just said, "I'm sorry..."

I’m pretty sure this interview will end up on the fabled “cutting room floor.” I hope so, anyway, because I have a feeling I come across as much more of a deadpan than I feel like I am.

The truth I don’t really think about the trains too much. As I told the nice lady, “they get me to New York and back. I’d say they are adequate.” What else can be said of a train? Hey, it’s there when it’s supposed to be, the roof doesn’t leak, it’s relatively sanitary and, for a man at least, the facilities function. It’s not like I go home and fret about not getting my money’s worth from Metro North.

Anyway, add another few seconds to my “15 minutes.” The last time I was in a news clip was when the local channel decided to do a story on the “phenomena” of “daytrading.” My face was just a millisecond of fill, but at least one friend commented. “You look pretty serious, man.” Yes, I suppose so. But I don’t feel serious. That’s the funny thing. But I thought the reporter did a nice job with the piece overall. She had a good sense of humor and she seemed to work well with the manager, who is a true deadpan. He’s about as exciting as drying paint, but she made him look as engaging as a rock star.

Someone once told me that I should be in pictures. But that was a sociology professor who had an effeminate manner. I never took it seriously, because I think he had ulterior motives.

This last clip brings my lifetime film credit total to 3 (three). A couple more and I might compile a boxed DVD set. Maybe I’ll start “preselling” it now…


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