How are you supposed to accidentally meet your soulmate these days? No one talks to anyone anymore. I know this, because I take every precaution not to. Think I'm lying? I'm not. I will give you an example.
I live in a 36-apartment building. I leave my place early enough to avoid about 85% of my neighbors who, I believe, are simultaneously avoiding me. I swear I saw one of them run back UP the stairs to avoid walking parallel with me. I don't take it personally, I'd do the same thing. We all just don't want to talk to each other. It's not offensive if it's mutual. I walk briskly to my car, avoiding eye contact with everyone. Dog walkers, hill runners, who I curse under my breath for making me feel unnecessarily guilty with their early morning fitness routine, and anyone else within the block or so that I walk to my vehicle. Then I get in my car, windows up, and drive to BART.
Even before I get out of the car, I have my headphones on. I walk from the parking lot to the train station, eyes fixed on an unspecified target - it doesn't matter what, just so long as it isn't another person. I pretend I am focused, intent on getting to my destination in a timely manner, and that whatever I am listening to is overwhelmingly consuming. There is no way I can buy your paper, homeless man, I don't even see you. This is because I am super-focused-girl.
and here's the crux of the issue - everyone else is doing the same thing as me.
At this point, I'm on the train. I stand in my favorite spot, leaned up against one of the handicapped seat walls, and I am on my phone. I am on my phone checking my email, texting my friends in Texas who have already been awake for hours. I am checking my Facebook and Twitter. I am perusing the internet, assuming that we are either in San Francisco or above ground in Oakland. The point is, I am looking down. I cannot hear anyone (remember the headphones) and now I cannot see anyone (unless they are one of my 355 friends on Facebook.) And if I do happen to look up, maybe while a particular page is loading, I only look up to see everyone else is doing something else.
Old man with the plaid suit in the corner is reading the newspaper on his Kindle (insert 'only old people use eBooks' joke.) Middle-aged business woman is doing the crossword puzzle. Asian boy with a bike is playing some game on his iPhone. And overzealous, adorable, mid-twenties man, aka Mr. Blackberry, is emailing from his Blackberry Curve.
Now maybe you can see my problem. How on earth are Mr. Blackberry and I supposed to bump in to each other, accidentally, when the train makes a sudden shift entering the tunnel after the West Oakland stop, apologize awkwardly, make small talk for the remainder of our trip, both get off at the Powell Street station, assume it's fate and get married - breathe - if we wouldn't even notice the other one getting stabbed from the same distance? He's rocking out to The Smiths and sending out his sort-of liberal but really more of a moderate emails to his coworkers, the ones that do and say the most ridiculously hilarious things. And I am tweeting off-the-cuff snarky remarks about society and things that annoy me, while enjoying the musical stylings of my latest monthly iTunes playlist. See? We're perfect for each other but we'll never know it because we are so intent on not finding out.
This is the part where someone suggests that I just take my headphones off. Well, someone, if I did that, I would be making the first move. Call me a post-feminist but I am not a first-move maker. Why doesn't HE take HIS headphones off? And stop writing that email, it's too long. Also, Mr. Blackberry, you used the wrong form of "break" in that sentence. This is merely an example of how close we were standing, I did not actually read his email. That would be weird.
I have looked at all my Facebook notifications, I have tweeted three times. I am bored with my phone, finally. So I opt to stare blankly out the window of the SF-Daly City line train. Only we're under the bay so there is absolutely nothing to look at. So I look at my reflection in the window. My bangs are doing that fly-away thing again. Hell. I run my fingers through them before I realize that I am now blatantly using the window as a mirror and I'm THAT girl. I stop, immediately. I refocus my eyes to see Mr. Blackberry has finally finished his novel of an email. And time stops, because Mr. Blackberry is looking at me. He is looking at me through the reflective window and when we make eye contact, he smiles and laughs. He is laughing because, and I know why since we're like totes meant-to-be, because he caught me staring at my own reflection. And hello, pearly whites - what a smile. So I smile back, and we have a moment. That's right, it's only a matter of time before I am officially Mrs. Blackberry.
If this were 1997.
But no. We're both wearing headphones and we both have appointments and people outside of the train-world to attend to. It's awkward to stop emailing. It's too much commitment to take off your headphones. Who goes first? Whoever is willing to look desperate. Mr. Blackberry and I are in a stand-off of integrity and willpower. This will be our downfall.
We get off the train, at the same station, and we continue to not talk. Then we re-enter the real world, where he is late for work and I am back to ignoring early bird street merchants. I could be excited about my first date when the man I'm going to marry, but no, instead, I'm waiting in line behind some elderly tourist in Walgreens who wants to know if this Alcatraz sweatshirt is on sale.
So riddle me this, Mr. Jobs, how many more fairytale moments are your technological devices going to ruin? Also, I know you're not responsible for the Blackberry, though I'd like to know who is because well, you know, but it could have just as easily been an iPhone and that one is absolutely your fault. If I end up alone, I'm suing you. Just a heads up.