I take two trains each day on my way to work. This morning the first train was a little crowded so I sat next to someone. I'm not terribly social before I've had coffee and I usually prefer to sit alone. We are riding along and I pull out my knitting. It's all stockinette at this point and I'm just speeding along. As the train pulls to an intermediate station I ask the man next to me if this is his stop (so I can get up to let him pass by). He says no and then remarks on my knitting. The usual comments of 'oh that looks hard, can't you just buy something, but it looks really cool.' I reply that I like having something to do with my hands on the train. He smiles and says, nodding towards his bag, "I like to drink beer". "Work wouldn't really like it if I did that' I laugh. He replies he wouldn't know and does the wistful stare out the window. We get to talking and the man lives in upstate CT with his wife and kids and has been out of work for years because he can't get into any unions. Then he goes on to say he earns $7 at the temporary labor office but today he found work painting elevators for $150 in New York. I ask him how come he doesn't work at the casinos which are huge employers? He replies that he has a bit of a record. In fact he's been in and out of jail since he was 17. He looked about 40 to me. We talk a few minutes more about kids, gas and the price of food and our stop arrives and we part ways. This is the kind of conversation you have to be prepared for if you knit in public!