I ride the train. Other people ride the train. To note this fact is unnecessary. People have private cars, boats, jets, and even busses. Trains are for sharing. I ride the train.
I watch people. I listen. People interest me, their mannerisms, movements, modes of speech. In my opinion this is a better way of investigation than studying by nose. This is possible and it is done. Some do this as a vocation and call it research. Some have a passion. Some just have a misfortune.
Yesterday dulled the eyes and muffled sound. Yesterday chose to force scents. On train one a person nearby gave off the essence of cooked celery. Train two featured someone with the air of stale soup. Free Shuttle Bus air was overcome with the pungent and vibrant scent of ginger (as in fresh cut or candied- notably eatable, not a lotion or perfume). While this was a more pleasant olfactory gift, none of these smells mesh with the nature of a morning, albeit a bustling city morning. I think I would be more accepting or at least less begrudging of these intrusions on my personal space if the odors fit better with the time of day. Before 10:30 or maybe even 11 a day should have traces of syrup and coffee with perhaps some cinnamon or maybe citrus if it must carry a scent in the first place.
A home-bound train paused respectfully at South Station while another sluiced by on shared track. When I joined this train, one of my concomitants spread odors of soggy bread. I mention South Station specifically because during the wait at this junction a youth boarded the train and sat beside me. He deemed it socially necessary to cover whatever natural essences he might carry with his person in a cloak of cologne. The overzealous powers of his scent dampened the influences of any others in my vicinity for several hours afterwards. Perhaps he should be thanked, but at this point it can only be speculation. In fact, the only reason the prior soggy-bread air even remains in my memory is visual impression left on me by the smell bearer. It was unclear which of the people across from me actually held the mantle, but it was either the aged, nearly hairless woman with wan blue eyes or the aged Chinese man with mismatched leg warmers who was worried by the aforementioned woman. Both characters looked like they might be composed, at least in part, of moistened bread. Of all the day’s olfactory twinges, this one was not unnatural. It fit not only in excerpt (because of the physical presence of the bread beings) but also in the context of the whole day.
You may question my last assertion, for when does a damp loaf ever fit a day unless children feeding ducks is involved. Honestly though, it was just a soggy bread day. A cold but thankfully light rain came down on and off but always at a slant. People were walking in a stooped hurry with the speed of their bustle unrelated to the actual time and staring doggedly at the ground as if the concrete or pavement might share some secret of how to better resist the wind if their gaze pierced deep enough. The pigeons were also damp and malcontent, huddling in fluffed masses under eves amid the failed anti-pigeon measures. The only dry pair in the city, an iridescent and importunate groom and his antipathetic bride, reside in North Station and are therefore exempt from paying a weather tax. Surveying the day by eye, ear, and nose, one gets the impression that even a fine loaf of French bread would be flaccid at least in spirit and wonders if the crackers being tossed at the nuptial pigeons were really as crisp as their heritage scrolled on the package claimed them to be.