The bag is black, nondescript, its handle extended in the way I’ve seen with commuter bags on the Metro. In all aspects it is unremarkable save for one—it is unattended.
I started eavesdropping as I was without book or headphones. This is how I first hear about the bag.
It is a group of young men, all possibly heading home after a night out. They’re all well mannered, not too loud, but all discussing what to do about the bag. What’s the protocol? Is it like finding an unattended child in a restroom? What do you do? There is a lot of laughter that slowly transitions to disquiet when they realize, three stops later, that the bag is truly unattended.
I can’t see the bag from where I am sitting. I wonder how long it has been on the train and whether or not I should get on the intercom.
A Metro employee boards the train and they tell him that it’s an unattended bag. He tells them that he will take care of it.
At the next stop, I get up along with a dozen other people. As we approach the door and the bag, he stops me and asks if the bag is mine.
“No.” I say, as flat and as long as I can without it sounding like two syllables. There is a pause as he looks me over. There is an unspoken approval and I get off the train and on to the platform.
He asks no one else as we disembark from the train.
“Sure,” I say to no one in particular. “Ask the one brown guy in the train.”
“Well,” a voice behind me answers. “It was either you,” she pulls down her scarf, and behind it, I see a young middle eastern woman. “Or me.”
And we laugh.