On my daily commute, I see:
1. Pimple-faced teens in day-glow tracksuits congregate in every available space on the subway, frantically cramming before a long day at school.
2. The man across from me looks miserable. He probably works for China Steel and is therefore overworked and underpaid.
3. When I grow bored of looking at everyone else, I look at my backpack. It is orange but turning gray around the seams where all the dust gathers.
4. Sometimes I think that people avoid looking at me because I am also dirty all the time. This feels like proof:
Now that I take the bus in the mornings, though, things are different. The seats keep everyone looking forward so no one sees anything but the road ahead and the back of whoever sits in front of them. No chance of eye contact, no chance to feel shunned. The interior of the bus is old and, like me, coated in a fine layer of dirt. My self-esteem has skyrocketed since I made the switch.