Ramblings & ephemera

Time travelers on the NYC subway

From Making Light:

The funny thing is, I’ve seen time travellers in NYC. Or at any rate I’ve seen people I thought were time travellers, and one case where I was sure.

This happened one day back in the 1980s. I was riding the subway home from work, and this kid got on at 34th or 42nd. He was at most twelve but I think younger, and slightly built at that. What caught my eye first was that he was wearing a jacket with a waistline seam–not a full-blown norfolk jacket, less obtrusive than that, but in that class. Which was odd; it had been over half a century since boys’ and men’s jackets stopped having waistline seams.

I started noticing more things about him. His pants ended just below his knees. That was unobtrusive too; his pants were dark, and so were his long woolen socks. If you weren’t really looking, the combination would register as black trousers, and you wouldn’t think anything of it. He had a flat woolen cap, and a sweater on under the jacket, and his shoes were what you’d expect with the rest of the outfit. Think newsboy, turn of the century or a little later, and you’ve got it.

But what struck me as genuinely odd was that he wasn’t wearing his clothes like a costume. Those were just his clothes, and they weren’t new, either. I honestly believe that if he’d gotten onto the same subway in the same clothing but had felt like he was dressed up for a masquerade, half the car would have noticed him right away.

Comments are closed.