They're everywhere, and no matter what you call them, there is only one thing they want to do. Talk. These people are desperate. I don't know whether it's the irrational fear of an uncomfortable silence, or simply the need to feel relevant. But the end result is the same. They are up-in-yo-face and want to talk. Common symptoms include: diarrhea of the mouth, comments about the weather, or usually an "oh my, what are you reading there??". They are on the prowl for anyone with an ear. And when it comes to the Metro, WATCH OUT. They have your undivided attention as you are now a captive audience with no means of escape.
Now, it doesn't matter if you're listening to music, reading, knitting or whatever. They feel they are more important, and want, nay, demand your attention. They'll talk about darn near anything to keep you remotely focused on them, like a veteran con-man, stealing only your precious alone time. Some people don't care. Most do, and rather be left alone. They don't ride the metro to make friends, they do it to get somewhere better. But like the movie Fight Club, these talkers are single-serving friends.
The problem with these people is that they mean well. Ok, maybe not, but they definitely don't mean harm. And there in lies the problem. In today's society (unless you live in New York City) it is rude not to answer when you are being spoken to. It's simply bad manners to ignore someone, even if they're a stranger. So you respond. And that's when you've been hooked. The conversation progresses, and any possible exit point is masterfully avoided like a myrmecophobiac near an anthill. You try to stare away, or limit your responses hoping the initiator gets the point. No dice. The pointless questions. The nonsense gab. It goes on and on, turning into an almost buzzing sound. "Make it stop!" you scream inside. You look around. Everyone else is looking either down or away. Sweat pours down your brow. What stop is this? FIVE MORE?! Noooooooooooo!!!
I've seen it a dozen times, poor souls captured in the talker's web. It is one of those awkward times in your life when you actually consider telling someone completely off. ".... Excuse me, sir, but i really just DON'T GIVE A $#!t." But you just can't bring yourself to say those words. And so you sit (or stand), praying that the train doesn't break down before you reach your destination.
I will now, dear readers, impart my advice to you regarding avoiding "talkers."
Don't make eye contact; simply focus on what you're doing. If someone asks you a direct question such as "what time is it" or "is this the red line," give short, direct answers, and look away immediately. Never volunteer any information if the question is general. For statements like "oh, i like your shirt/hair/backpack/pet parrot," the correct response is a brief smile, and then a turn of the head to focus on something else.
Many times these talkers are drunk and/or indigent, and will just talk non-stop without actually needing your input. Do not nod your head, and definitely don't say anything when a rhetorical question is asked, such as "you know what i mean?" Sometimes they'll resort to saying offensive things just to get your reaction. Ignore it and don't fall for the trap.
Often, a talker's victim will get off the train (whether at their correct stop or not), and you have been a first hand witness to the deed. The talker will immediately attempt to capture more prey, someone who perhaps looked up one too many times, or showed even the slightest interest in the conversation as it happened. The solution: don't look up! Feigned obliviousness here is the key to personal freedom, for at least five more minutes.
If this small and insignificant entry will save you from even ONE talker encounter, then, my friends, i have done my job.