“Seeing him and deciding to get in the same car as him was the most natural thing. I’ll just, I’ll just put myself next to him and see what happens”
“I guess that’s how it works, like the kind of person you actually wanna catch the eye of doesn’t even look your way.”
Nathan is one of the founders of an on-demand tutoring company SmartAlec
Nathan on "Transformation"
I was going to an event for an author that I published.
I don’t remember much about the actual daytime I basically was working, it must have been a weekend or a Friday or Saturday or something.
The event was so successful. There was crafting, you made animal masks and there was an afterparty and my best friend who runs a theatre company and I was going to see her show that night so it was a very busy Sunday.
I remember that I had a date that night.
I realized that I had to go to get to this play.
I was walking to the York F train, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it but…
There’s the one F train at York street and it’s like impossible to find.
It’s incredibly hard to find.
You’re looking at Google and you’re like “it’s right there! Where is it?!”
The entrances are weird and they’re not where they say they are on the map so you have to run across three lanes of traffic at one point like hop a meridian.
So I did that for a little while and then I finally went underground and…
Ran down the stairs and was standing on the platform.
I’m just kind of in my own head but I’m looking around, I don’t have headphones in or anything.
I guess ‘cos it had been a struggle getting there I was tired.
Very much thinking about how the event went.
I was going on this date that I just wasn’t that excited about.
I hoped the trains would work.
A girl walked by and she had curly sort of red hair, yeah I completely noticed her in a very distinct way.
I just see and I thought: “That guy is my exact type”
You know, word for word in my mind I’m like : “That’s the kind of girl I need to meet.”
I just kind of like walk past him and notice him.
She walked right by me and didn’t look at me at all. I remember feeling like “man, she didn’t even glance at me. I guess that’s how it works, like the person you actually want to catch the eye of doesn’t even look your way. She just looked very cool, like very hip, in a very put together way.
I’m holding this giant panda mask that I made at this event.
She had this weird mask with her so I was like: “This girl is going to some cool ‘sleep no more’ style exclusive party that I’m definitely not invited to.
As the train pulls up I thought: “Maybe I’ll get on his car”
And then the train came.
Seeing him and deciding to get in the same car as him was like the most natural thing, like “I’ll just put myself near him and see what happens.”
And I just I got on
So I walked backwards and go in the door that he goes in and…
There’s few enough people that I can get a seat, and I very rarely sit on trains.
I just sit down right next to him on the same bench and…
I look over and she’s sitting next to me.
He was on one side of the bench and I’m sitting on the opposite side of the bench but no one in between us. I remember feeling like he was surprised that I ended up back there sitting next to him.
When I saw her next to me I was confused I remember thinking like: “How did that happen?” Because she had walked past me.
I had walked by him.
“Ok, I’m going to make this bold move here and talk to her on the train.”
We both took that as me making the first move because I put myself next to him.
Like oh yeah, completely not realizing that she had engineered the entire situation. I don’t think I’ve ever really struck up a conversation with someone on a train, I just think that the subway is a place where you don’t necessarily breach those social boundaries that might be ok to breach at like a coffee shop. But she had that mask.
But it started off with “Why do you have a panda mask?”
She told me that it was from this book event that she had just come from. “Oh you work in children’s books.” She’s got a very cool job
I love what I do so it’s very easy for me to talk about
I had a job, I built a small company, I was doing fine, but I didn’t know what the next thing was going to look like so it was like: “Grad school? The peace corps? Foreign Service?” I wanted to get out and do something completely different.
And I think that that started it all off.
She was coming from a book event, going to a party, she was living a really good life here. It was just impressive.
I think the goal was to go to west 4th street.
I was heading to Broadway-Lafayette.
I was going to this play.
I was meeting the girl at a bar there.
So in an ideal world I would just take the F right there.
And that trip is like ten minutes.
And I was thinking that optimistically. What ended up happening is that it was a Sunday in Brooklyn so all the trains were…
The trains was like…
[ and Mogan]
Totally messed up.
It was going to run on a different line, or stopped running.
The PA comes on and it says that…
The F train is now running one the Q line.
There was a moment I think when we heard that announcement, when we both heard that we both had to get up to transfer, where we could have separated
I’m sure we could have gotten off on different aspects of the journey, but we didn’t.
So I immediately tried to engage her, like: ” Where are you going? How can we figure this out together. Let’s tackle it together!” was my proposition.
We ended up having to take three separate trains
And I could tell that was exciting to him.
That’s like an excellent opportunity to get extra time to talk to someone.
As it was to me.
That was when I started maybe sacrificing my own destination slightly for the sake of spending more time with her.
Neither of us having any intention of stopping talking until it was absolutely necessary.
It’s not like I went horribly at the wrong place but getting where I was going quickly became less important than getting there together.
And we talked the entire time.
I think we spent probably a collective twenty minutes on the trains but the whole thing was an hour of waiting and transferring, something insane like that.
There was a moment I remember realizing we’d been talking for a really long time and it wasn’t uncomfortable or I wasn’t confused about what to say.
I felt just so easy.
Right from the beginning there was that feeling that this is something special and something that I was filled with excitement about. I don’t think we touched or anything, it was just talking. And that never happens. It felt like a faded experience, it was like: “who meets someone on a train and has that long of a conversation in which it doesn’t feel awkward and just feels comfortable?” I just kept thinking “I can’t believe that happened”.
The next day was pretty clear that I was thinking about the girl that I had met on the train.
I kind of just wanted to tell someone like it felt like the kind of thing that you want to share and…
It’s definitely exciting that you could walk into a train station and leave the train station and your life can be completely different for what seems like forever.
One of the things that people who live in New York know is that “you don’t talk to people on the subway”. I think this is a common feeling on trains in general, and creating a connection feels impossible. With the help of a little chance, and a lot of impulse, Nathan & Morgan decide to ignore all they have been told.
Episode 1 was Produced, Scored & Mixed by Bart Warshaw
My thanks to Morgan & Nathan who were so kind to let me record their meeting. Special thanks to Jeffrey Yamaguchi for the introduction and the Kismet team Zoe, Danny & Ryan for joining the journey.
As this is the debut episode, a few additional thanks go to the Memory Motel and What’s Happening Here podcast teams, the imparting knowledge Rose Evelith, & and the endless support from Chelsea Carter.