On the Train

It occurred to me today, for the first time, that I might be the subject of other people’s stories. As part of one’s talking with friends and family it is common to talk about the events that transpired that day or any particularly note-worthy details of their life currently going on. This is one of my favorite pastimes actually. Some might even say that I’m always telling a story, a continual story of my life. Frequently my stories abound with countless details, details that in my opinion are paramount to understanding what really happened, details that become the very essence of the story. I’ll tell stories about someone who came into my place of work, or someone I saw on the train, or about a cat roaming around my neighborhood. And yet, for the first time today, I realized that maybe people go home and tell their friends and family stories where I am one of those details. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, that I somehow do such important things that people feel compelled to talk about me. I mean to say that we’re all a part of society and we all live everyday lives going to work, school, the grocery store, restaurants and so many other places. We all interact with others and it is these interactions that comprise our days. Some interactions may leave more of a lasting memory than others, but all these interactions are part of the story of someone’s life. These interactions, which then sometimes become stories amount to the story of a life.

I was thinking about this today as I recalled a story that I was telling my brother on the train ride to his flat upon arriving in London. I was telling him that I watched an episode of The Office while I was on the airplane. Except it was the British version of The Office, which up until a few hours prior, I didn’t even know existed. I completely missed how this episode was funny in the least bit. Well to be fair, I don’t think the American version of The Office is all that funny either. But I at least find it more entertaining than the British version. So I’m telling this to my brother on the train, and before I launched into the very detailed and thorough synopsis of the episode, I very innocently asked him, “Did Britain copy The Office from us or something, and then they made the British version?” This random guy sitting across the aisle abruptly turned and looked at me at that very moment. I can only imagine the expression on his face, as I didn’t dare look at him. My brother quickly informed me that actually the British version came first and the Americans are the ones who copied them. I was slightly embarrassed to have not known this fact since I so loudly asked such a question on a public train IN LONDON of all places. Then to add to that, I continued to explain bit by bit every single thing that happened in the episode and I frequently said that there was no plot and things just kept happening. I can only guess that I helped add to whatever stereotypes British people have of us Americans. After recalling this story today, the point that stuck out the most was the guy across the aisle. I wondered if the next time he is reminded of, or even watches The Office if he doesn’t think of this obnoxious conversation he was forced to listen to on that Wednesday morning train ride. Maybe he’s actually a huge fan of The Office. Or maybe his friend is a huge fan so he told him this story. Or maybe he just shook his head and carried on with his day and forgot all about it. That’s the beauty of our everyday interactions. You have no idea how many people will hear about them long after the moment is over.

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