I just got back from a trip home to the east coast and was struck by how much of a difference it makes to be surrounded by talkative people. Case in point: on my way to the airport, I was sitting on Air BART (the bus that takes you from the train to the airport) and an older woman sat down next to me. That wasn't surprising. What was surprising was that she then started trying to chat me up. "So, where are you headed?" she asked, clutching her purse to her lap. I told her New York and feigned intense interest in the Oakland Coliseum, but she would not be dissuaded. "Oh, New York City," she said. "I'm from Reno." She then launched into a discussion of her career as a lower school librarian in Reno, her love of David McCullough, and her interest in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. She actually was quite sweet and by the end I was encouraging her to come visit New York ("You'd love it -- it's fun to just people watch") -- but still, I didn't really understand the whole small-talk-on-the-Air-BART phenomenon. Who does that?