On the subway home today, I was struck by the sight of two older women talking together. They had such interesting faces, such animated expressions, and I thought to myself, "I bet they've lived interesting lives." And I admit I sidled over and shamelessly eavesdropped (which really isn't hard to do on a crowded subway. I mean, no one has a private conversation on the subway, right?) Anyway, I was right. In the space of a few minutes I learned one was on her way to the airport for an international flight, and the other was an artist who had something to do with organizing concerts. And she knew a fantastic violinist in Kyrgyzstan (I think she said) who was asked by the president of the country to set up a music school, and when the violinist said she didn't even have a decent instrument of her own, he bought her a Stradivarius. And the lady on the subway whipped out her phone and played a video of this violinist playing an achingly beautiful piece in concert. She told her friend about cornering a couple of political bigwigs and insisting they organize a concert featuring this violinist, and the concert is indeed happening.
By the time we reached my stop, I had gleaned leads on about five topics that would be worth writing about. There were so many magazine articles I could draw from their minds, maybe even a biography or two. I was tempted to turn to them and say, "Please let me interview you!" But I didn't have any business cards on me, and the only paper I had to write my contact info on was an old receipt. And then I got an attack of shyness and chickened out altogether and ended up not interacting with them at all, but got off at my stop and thought about them on the bus home.
Lost opportunity, probably. Terribly bad manners for eavesdropping? Undoubtedly. But what an interesting ride home that was! I wonder what other intriguing people were on that train car.