Tuesday, 21 February 2017–8:33am

Sliding choppily across wrought iron tracks, bound for Grand Central Terminal, the 8:28 Metro North express train is a world of its own — a sensory deprivation chamber of noise-cancelling headphones and dark sunglasses. Heads are tilted either up with eyes shut in an attempt to cherish just one more moment of sleep, or down, fixed on a smartphone, or a newspaper, or an outdated corporate laptop. These days, bad posture is an epidemic, and technology has accidentally resulted in a generation not at all concerned with looking forward.

How could a dull train car compete with instant access to world news, or a chance to get work done before work, or a few rounds of Candy Crush? People use this time in transit to do as they please, forgetting they’re in a public place. They lip sync, snap selfies, and pick their noses as if nobody is watching.

This is the magic of the train — the freedom to prepare, to embrace your true self before you must put on the mask you’ve so carefully curated. How many people have sat in this pleather seat before me? Someone famous? Someone I’ll love? This portal to New York City, to endless opportunity, can make even the most important executive feel like just another body, another head looking up or down on his way to his tiny bubble of influence.

Each time it stops, the train trades personalities, and scents, and styles, and it adopts an entirely new character. Today is beautiful. The glaring sun does little to dull snapping winds, but the sky is a pristine powder blue with wisps of white splayed across it. You can feel spring in the air, peeking just around the corner with its promises of new beginnings.