I’m on the train, traveling alone, with two seats to myself. I have to use the restroom. Without thinking about it carefully, I ask a couple across the aisle if they would please watch my things for me for a moment. Then I take a closer look at them and have second thoughts: they are young, for one thing. Also, they seem very nervous, the guy’s eyes are bloodshot, and the girl has a lot of tattoos. Still, it’s done now. I get up and start moving back. But, as a precaution, I ask a man sitting a few seats back from mine, who is dressed in a suit and looks like a businessman, to please keep an eye on that young couple for me, because I have had to leave my seat for a moment and all my things are on it. I could just go back and retrieve my bag, giving an excuse. In fact, this is suggested by the man, who objects to being put in this position, the position of having to stop what he is doing and watch a young couple who have done nothing wrong, so far, anyway. But I feel it is too awkward to go and get my bag, and even if I went and got my bag, I would still be leaving on my seat a valuable coat.
—Can’t you wait? asks the man, though it’s none of his business.
Then I have another idea.
—Maybe you could go sit in my seat while I’m gone?
—No, says the man. Then I’d have to leave my things.
He is not being very cooperative.
—But that lady across the aisle could watch them for you. She looks trustworthy.
The lady is old and she’s sitting very still.
—You could wake her up.
—I wouldn’t want to do that.
The old lady is sitting next to a younger woman. The younger woman is also slumped over, asleep, and the old woman is leaning against her.