I never really thought of the people who ride the train with me as friends, but it made a big difference when one of them recently disappeared. He was an older gentleman who always had nice things to say and told great jokes that we all enjoyed. He would occasionally miss a day, but I doubt any of us thought much about it. When he had been gone for nearly a week, I asked the conductor if he knew what happened. I was shocked when he told me that the man was in the hospital with cancer.

Even though there are a group of us who commute together all week, we don’t know each other’s names or any personal information. We smile and nod, but deep conversation is not part of our routine. I suddenly thought of that as selfish, so this man’s disappearance must have really struck a chord in me. Staying a stranger seemed wrong, and I decided it was time to set about making the situation right.

I asked the conductor what the man’s name was, and it turned out he knew a lot about him. He asked me why I was inquiring, and I explained that I wanted to go visit him. He gave me the name of the hospital, and he even knew the visiting hours. I thanked him and then began talking to the other commuters to see if anyone wanted to go with me. I was surprised at how many of them said yes.

We’re all going to meet up at the hospital after work today to see our commuter friend, and I think we’re all looking forward to it. The world can be a lonely place, and I believe making a connection like this is one way to stop the loneliness and find new friends.