A man with a wheeled suitcase approached me on the platform at Westlake Station this morning. I knew what he was going to ask me. And he did ask the question I was expecting, but not in the way I was expecting.
“Say, man,” he said, “Which way is this train heading?” He pointed down at the platform below us, clearly meaning “the train that arrives at this platform.”
I assumed that he was not a tourist, despite his suitcase – a traveler, maybe, but not a tourist. It was the way he was dressed, the way he carried himself, the way he approached me, and the fact that he didn’t ask if the train was going to the airport.
So, I answered simply, “South.”
That was clearly not the answer he was looking for. He looked confused, and slightly annoyed. I thought about what answer he might be looking for: Beacon Hill? Columbia City? Rainier? – until I said, “SeaTac”.
That was the answer he was looking for.
He disappeared into the crowd without thanking me.
I exited the train at Pioneer Square Station, and so did the man who’d approached me at Westlake. I headed toward the north exit. He headed toward the south exit.
He was not a tourist.