Check it out!
Thanks so much, Jeannie! I feel vindicated.
It's funny how when you're sitting there with your iPod, people don't necessarily bother you (although some do), but if you whip out the laptop, and start typing at random, they leave you alone, as if you're in the middle of either divine inspiration, or in the middle of Really Hard Work. Let's be honest, though. I have no books open. I've got no reports sitting in front of me. No notebooks. Not a PDA. Not a cell phone. Nothing at all. However, they'll assume that I'm doing Important work, even if I have an amused look on my face.
I wonder if it works the same way for writing? I'll have to experiment some time.
The thing is, people find me easy to talk to, because I don't glare with hostility at anyone whose eye rests on my face for more than a fraction of a second. People seem to mistake my lack of hostility for an invitation to chatter on for however long it takes to complete the journey, or until I leave in annoyance or frustration. I'll be sure to report back on it.
For now, I'm in the train, and it's seriously quite crowded. In other words, I'm thinking that this shield in front of me is what's preventing long, boring conversations based around the beauty of trees, their sleepy little hamlets, or whatever other garbage these people are interested in. Again, I'll keep you posted as much as possible.