I boarded the train this morning, heading into Center City for the first full work week of the year. I took a seat, reached into my bag for the book I'm currently reading* and opened it up to the bookmarked page. Midway through the first sentence, it began.
Click. Click. Clickclick. Click. Click.
It was an irregular metallic chirp. Where was it coming from? I looked up and, with my morning-weary eyes, I scanned the train car. I saw mostly the tops of heads bent forward in either sleep or concentration over any number of convenient electronic devices.
Click. Click. Click. Clickclick. Click
I turned to my right and discovered the source of the irritating sound. Curled up in the window corner of the double seat next to me was a guy. In a suit. With a briefcase. And an iPad. And a pen. A regular ball point pen. And he was clicking the fuck out of it. He stared intently at his electronic Apple tablet that was precariously balanced on one jutting knee. In his hand, he absentmindedly worked his thumb at record speed on the click button (that is an actual industry term). I tried to return to my reading, but the patternless clicking was too distracting. I'd read a few sentences and the clicking would begin again. I'd look up and give the "glare of death," but I was powerless. The clicking continued, increasing and decreasing at indiscriminate intervals.
Click. Clickclickclickclick. Click. Click. Click. Clickclick.
What the hell did he need a pen for anyway? He wasn't writing. He had an iPad! He was reading! Unless you're in a college lecture hall, you don't need a pen when you're reading. I was reading and I didn't have a pen.
Click. Click. Clickclick.
Stop it! STOP IT! STOP THAT CLICKING! That's what you would say to your little sister at the dinner table when she's drumming with her utensils. That's what you'd say to your husband when he's... well, pretty much anything he's doing. But, to a stranger on a train not even in the same communal seat? That's just not done. Unless you're a total jerk. (Which I'm not. So, shut up.)
I struggled through a few more pages, not even comprehending what I was reading. Finally, the train arrived at my Center City stop. Mr. Clicky ceased his thumb exercises long enough to gather up his coat, sheathe his iPad and, thankfully, his pen.
* Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot by Heather Donahue (Not exactly Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment).