At 6:30am the Messenger took his usual seat on the floor of the train station platform and waited for the commuters to start arriving. The first ones arrived in half empty cars wearing bright yellow and orange. They didn’t pay him much attention if they noticed him at all. Each train that arrived, arrived fuller and as the loads swelled, the people scurrying out of the mechanical doors changed from the bright orange and yellow wearers, the ones with paint splattered shoes, to the ones in dark suits and shiny shoes. The Messenger made these smartly dressed commuters jealous and afraid. How could he do it, they thought, how can a person live like that, in filth and poverty and uncertainty, alone without a prospect or a hope in the world? They stepped off the cattle cars in the morning and spilled onto the streets from underground stations like ants from a hill. Only the sound of feet and machines as if each body emerging from the cars was a new version of itself stepping off the production line. They filed past him like the scrolling headlines at the bottom of the screen of a morning television program. The kind of program where talentless idiots, with impossibly perfect smiles, discussed the problems of the world between commercial breaks and the secrets to the perfect dinner party.
Some gave him nervous glances, others eyed him with voyeuristic intrigue but eventually they simply passed by him, oblivious to a presence that had become so common as to be merely one of the other fixtures of the station for which they had no use. Some people presumed him a beggar and stooped to drop a few coins into his lap, usually with an awkward smile as if they feared offending him. When they did he made no change to his expression other than to look into their eyes, silently asking if they were finished. Most found this such an affront, such a strange way to accept alms that they resolved not to give him anything again.