I had an interesting encounter on the subway this afternoon. This doesn't usually happen: I typically try to avoid talking to others on public transit as much as possible, like the obviously disturbed guy I'd seen earlier who was sitting in the corner spouting some vague, rambling, quite racist stuff just loud enough to see if anyone nearby would engage with him. (No one did.)
It was just after 5 pm and the train was unsurprisingly quite crowded. I happened to be standing next to a woman with a large amount of reddish-blonde hair. It was piled up and gathered behind her head, and there was a blue ballpoint pen stuck through it. I've seen other women do this, and I find it rather charming.
I kind of couldn't resist, so when she happened to look toward me I said, "You have a pen in your hair." She smiled and responded, "I know, I put it there." I said, "I figured." She said, "I do it on purpose, so I know where it is. When I get home I take it out, and I have a cup full of them." I asked, "When you're leaving in the morning do you stick one in there?" She smiled again and said, "Yes, sometimes." And that was the end of it.
Sometimes it's unwise to initiate a conversation with a stranger, especially when there's no real justification for doing so. But other times, it adds a moment of color to an otherwise ordinary day.