A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the subway when my window peered out and saw a low-hanging beam behind a building. Suddenly, I realized I’d forgotten to put the jacket I’d bought at the market on my way to work. A pause. Then I filled it and set the alarm, setting off to work.

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Fast forward a few days and my phone is buzzing. Someone called about an appointment. Checking my calendar, I knew I had a session that morning with a guru to improve my stock-trading trading. I walked up to the door. Waiting for me were the guru and I’d paid him $450 a day to lead an intensive two-day course for me. I thanked him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to coach me, and he thanked me back. I was really surprised at the ease with which I’d given him all my time. Did I appreciate his selflessness?

Back to my subway ride — there was the shouting from another train, and there was the next train ahead that had to run by. Since I was headed to the building by myself, I had no signal to get off. I went back to my seat and put on the jacket I’d bought at the market. It was a perfect reminder of how the subway can make you feel alone and disconnected.