The Platform Lovers

I see them every day, this odd-couple, odd in a general sense but suited as a couple even although there appears to be a huge age gap.

It’s strange how you notice the same people every day. Standing on the platform waiting on the 8:45 into Glasgow city centre.

You begin to notice the clothes that people wear. Their working uniform giving clues to what they do to earn a crust in this thriving city of business and pleasure.

You dismiss the blacks and greys of most people only really noticing when they wear something different that makes them stand out in the crowd or from their usual working attire.

You notice the attractive young office worker, you can tell when she has a date later because she ups her game, she looks dressed to impress, wearing a skirt that shows off her long legs and a bright modern top with some flattering colour rather than her usually depressing black trousers and down-graded top.

You notice the people who dress down on a Friday, swapping their grey trousers or suits for jeans and a bomber jacket. These are the people who usually have their headphones in or never make eye contact because they are constantly staring at their mobile phone.

You notice the tall guy with the grey hair, he looks like a lawyer, certainly the educated, studious type. You wonder what he does.

He always stands there bolt upright with his briefcase dangling from his drooping arm. This guy has never done a day of manual work in his life.

He wears the same uniform every single day. Every single day he wears a different suit, shirt and tie, but the same uniform and the exact same demeanour.

He never smiles. He never looks happy or content with his lot..

Sometimes when I’ve picked the car up from the parking lot, I drive up the hill and there he is walking up the same road as me. His briefcase locked in position by his side.

Once, on a late summer evening I saw him without his uniform. I was walking to the station taking the train into town, the car left at home because I was out for the night.

He had his kids with him, two young kids, under 7, a tricycle and a pram. He was dragging them behind him.

Still he never smiled.

But the odd-couple always smile.

Usually it’s him that arrives first, he walks past me smoking, standing up at the far end of the platform, so that we can get on the end of the train with the exits closest to the steps at our common destination.

He’s a short bloke, short and stocky, 5’6, long grey hair bedraggled in its ponytail, his skin grey and pock-marked. He is probably about 50 but looks older. His clothes are dated like some ancient failed rocker.

He probably thinks he still is. He looks happy, it radiates from him.

She usually arrives a few minutes after him and they kiss fondly, there is an obvious closeness to them. They are much more than train-buddies. They are constantly within each other personal space. She leans against him and he grins then they whisper conspirationally and laugh.

Even on the train, they sit closely together, smiling, her leaning in, often sitting in silence and looking content in their joint world.

But today it’s her that arrives first.

She walks past me smoking her cigarette. She is also short but chubby, 5’4, her long hair dyed deepest metallic burgundy. She is probably early 40s but looks older, dated.

She walks past me without looking, expecting him to be already there, then turns and looks back down the platform her disappointment showing on her face.

I watch her as she stands there, looking between her watch and her mobile phone. She looks like she is considering giving him a call, but she doesn’t.

She just stands staring down the platform, watching the steps for a sign that her lover will appear. But there are only more officer workers and students.

A few minutes later the train arrives and the crowd move towards the doors and board the half empty train. The guy with the briefcase stands in his usual place beside the door, even although there are lots of empty seats. His case still locked against his side.

But she loyally remains on the platform, still focused intently on the stairs.

People are now beginning to notice her, staring at her from their seats, wondering what she is looking at and why she’s not getting on the train.

The train pulls away and still she stands trapped between action and inaction.

I have no idea why.

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6 thoughts on “The Platform Lovers

  1. I love this post. Observing people over a period of time is a habit of mine. I’ve even went up and asked people what the do for a living.

    Here’s one of mine – I was standing waiting for the London Tube to Heathrow Airport when I noticed and old woman walking slowly down the platform. She stopped at every man and looked at him then moved on. Till she came to me. She stopped and looked then said ‘Ja’.
    She make signs that she was lost and said the name of a station a few times. I took her up the escalator and showed her the right stairs to go down. She said, ‘I am not German’,and departed.

    Even now I wonder, what was she looking for in all those faces? And why did she pick me?

    I’ll never know.

  2. I realky enjoyed reading this too M.
    You know something it almost feels like the start of a story. Maybe a short story? Speaking of which, when are you starting your next one? I know you have plot already. You’re too good a writer to leave it in your head. Px

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