I’m sitting on the subway in a forward-facing seat. It’s an unusually slow evening, and there aren’t as many passengers in this particular car, which means it’s much quieter and less crowded than normal. Even through my headphones that are quietly playing the background music to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, I can still hear a few voices and even someone else’s music that must be bursting his or her eardrums.
At the next stop, two people sit in the empty seat behind me. They start talking – it sounds like two male voices. I make no mind of it, until I hear one of them say something slightly annoyed about “those stupid video games.” My ears perk up around my earbuds, and I become a little less interested in defense attorneying. Though I can’t see the speakers, their speaking patterns strike me as young. Younger than me, anyway.
Fellow 1: …I just don’t get them. Those video games
Fellow 2: What video games?
F1: Any video games. All video games. All those games. Why do people play them? Don’t they know they’re missing out?
F2: Missing out? Missing out on what? This? [I assume he’s waving dramatically at nothing.]
F1: I don’t know, just…life.
F2: Hey, I play games. You think I’m a loser?
F1: Um…but you don’t play games like some people. They’re the losers.
F2: Man, that’s pretty harsh. [He laughs. Not sure why. He sounds a little nervous.]
F1: Just look around! No one wants to connect anymore. No one wants to talk face-to-face. What ever happened to common courtesy? I can’t stand it when I’m talking to someone and they’d rather look at their phone, instead.
F2: Yeah, well, no one likes that.
F1: It all sucks. It all just sucks.
F2: Maybe you should play video games.
[At this point, F1 guffaws really loudly for a split second and then goes silent for a good few minutes.]
… … …
F1: No thanks. [He sounds superiorly indignant at the mere thought.]
[Another long-ish pause ensues.]
F2: People do connect over video games…you do know that, right?
[F1 falls completely silent. The conversation goes no further.]
It’s the end of the ride and time for everyone to get off. I wait a moment before moving to see if I can get a visual of the two guys in question, but they head in the opposite direction from me. However, I do catch a glimpse of them walking away, and they are much younger than I thought. Both of them are wearing high school uniforms.
As I head for my destination, I contemplate this oddball conversation from strangers. I momentarily wonder what might have set off the anger buttons of the one fellow. But then I start thinking about his comment on human interaction. Connections are where we find them, whether in person or over a fiber optic cable. And yes, lots of people connect over video games. Over music. Over food. Over architecture. Over science. Over politics. Over one of a million things that make up this life. Maybe that poor guy was just having a bad day. I kinda wish that the conversation had had some sort of resolution.
The preceding “event” was brought to you courtesy of my evening commute. The conversation was regurgitated as best as I could recall, albeit without the extensive cursing, as I couldn’t possibly remember the correct placement of it all. And the two gentlemen were real. I think. I mean, I imagine the two boys were headed home from school, but they could have easily been figments of my tired imagination. Or not. Maybe they represented personal manifestations of some form or another. I do spend an awful lot of my work day either at a computer screen or on the phone making connections. Making lots of connections. Some days I love it, and some days I hate it. But on those days I certainly wouldn’t blame video games.