Madrid has two types of trains - the metro and the cercanía. Metros are the ones that go around the city with stops pretty much all the time, and cercanías are for longer distances, so stop less frequently between suburbs. I live about 20kms out of the city centre, so the C4 line is my way in and out of the city practically every day. Most times when I take it, I get to sit down for the 20 minute ride (unlike if I were taking the metro). It's comfortable and fast, and everyone minds their own business.
Not last week though.
I was heading home from town in the evening, tired and a bit hungry. So I bought some dried fruit from the 'guilty pleasure' store that I always pass on the way to the platform. There I was, munching away on some crackers and raisins. The old man sitting across from me said (in Spanish) "Do you know that those make you fat?"
Ok, nice of you to tell me that, but I do know that they're not the healthiest snack, but much better than the Milka Oreo bar I could have bought... So I answered "Yes, I know that but it's ok, I know healthy from unhealthy."
He said something else about the raisins and I just kind of sat there, feeling instantly guilty for eating these things. But oh well, if he was going to want to talk, I was going to chat with him and practice speaking Spanish. He asked where I was from, what I was doing here, where I was going etc. I was starting to worry if he had an accomplice in the train or something and I'd be followed home (paranoia, probably enhanced by the sugar in the raisins). So I threw a few questions at him - where was he going, how long had he lived there for, did he have grandchildren? He lived in the same suburb as I did, and had actually lived there for about 30 years. Maybe he had top insider tips for me...
Yet, our conversation was punctuated by long periods of silence; I had paused my music and was just starting out the window, wondering what else we could talk about. Maybe I could make a friend? Near the last stop, a man came into our carriage, declaring he was a father, he didn't have a job, he didn't have any other income, and he was hungry. If we had anything we could give him - a donation of money or food, that would be very helpful.
You all know what's coming next. He started at one end of the carriage, and walked towards where we were sitting. A few people put some coins in his bag. He came past me, so I handed over the rest of the dried fruit. He said thank you. The end.