A smooth take off and an ascent to cruising altitude set the stewardesses at work. The plane felt stuffier than usual. He was in the middle, his favorite location. He’d been at the front, not first class, but right at that front row, with all that legroom. It just didn’t suit him. He wanted to be appropriately uncomfortable, a badge of honor, a shared suffering. So here he was, middle of the plane, middle of the row. Priest to his right, old woman holding a Pomeranian on his left. He felt like he was living inside a not-that-funny-gotta-laugh-to-be-polite joke that he couldn’t remember the punch line for.
As he emerged from the subway, George shaded his eyes, blinking into the morning sun. At the top of the steps he paused, glancing around the island platform. It was busy and the benches all seemed taken. A little further on he found a space between a middle-aged woman and a gnarled old man. It wasn’t hard to see why the space was free, but George’s head was spinning and he had to sit down. He nodded as the man’s yellowy grey eyes met his for an instant. The man folded his newspaper to make space before hunching his shoulders and continuing to read.