Commuter Confidential

The tension for me begins as soon as I’m sitting in my car, anxiously observing the clock edging forward, while my wife slowly and methodically packs her lunch inside, blissfully unaware that with each passing second traffic is building on the main road adjacent to our house. Each moment that passes will invariably make it more difficult for me to edge out on to that road to then make an awkward turn towards the train station.

Oh, there she is—finally. I see her charging out, at last, with some sense of urgency. I reprimand her for delaying us, as usual, and she bickers with me for a moment, then we back down the driveway and take off rapidly.

I reach the end of the block in about thirty seconds. Oh no, the guy in front of me is trying to make a left onto the main road and I have to make a right. I glance at the clock. “Come on, guy, come on.” But he can’t; the onslaught of traffic is too great. It passes but he still doesn’t move.

Another precious minute passes and then another. Finally, this bozo in front, whom I now hate, is able to make the turn. He could’ve gone thirty seconds earlier, but didn’t due to his bozoness.

I make the right and then an immediate left and whip down the street. Another quick right and left and I’m in the satellite parking lot, five blocks away from the main station lot—the main lot is full by six forty-five a.m. I have to be careful entering because all the ‘I’m in more of a rush than you and I’m more important than you’ commuters are barreling in from all directions and doing the morning parking lot ‘dance’.

We park, grab our bags and start running. I’m ahead, but I glance back to check that my lovely wife is keeping pace. She’s trying, but is weighed down by her heavy bag. I still haven’t figured out why she takes multiple, unnecessary items to work every day. I’d like to help her, but I can’t; it’s Monday and I’m a commuter again. It’s every man for himself. I pull ahead as I see the clock edging towards seven thirty-three. My wife’s angry now and is muttering in the back. She has just fabricated a story about how this lateness is, in fact, all my fault somehow. I shout something back at her and she proclaims that I can now sit by myself on the train because she doesn’t want to sit with me. “Fine,” I say. I continue bolting ahead and pick up the pace to a light jog. Momentarily, I ascend the steep staircase at the station and make a final dash down the other side to the platform. I move three cars ahead to our daily car and board as the PA system announces the impending departure of the seven thirty-six train.

My wife arrives just as the doors are closing. She gives me a snort of disdain, barely glancing at me as she passes my seat and goes and sits next to another woman, who knows from our daily antics that my wife and I will be traveling separately today.

I observe the daily commuters around me. One can tell that it’s Monday, without necessarily being aware of the calendar, simply by the looks on all the travelers faces. I’m careful as to who I sit next to since I know by now who likes to spread out and be inconsiderate of their neighbor. I scan the compartment, taking stock of who’s here today. I have names for them all. Yes, there’s the ‘crow’ who lives down the block from me. And there’s the fatty who eats snickers for breakfast. And there’s the jerk who’s always talking loudly on his phone. They’re all present and accounted for.

I take out my kindle and settle into my book of the week. This one’s interesting and I look forward to it. Of course, I’ll be interrupted at the next stop by the heedless who insist on carrying their bags on their shoulders while boarding rather than carrying them in front of themselves. They will hit every seated passenger on the way to their seats without fail, oblivious it seems.

The doors open at Penn Station and the mad dash for the stairs begins. I muscle my way to the subway and stand in the crowd there as the Number 2 train approaches the platform. We all congregate where we know the doors will open and when they do, all manners are out the window as we push and shove our way on. There is no consideration for women or children. I witness a huge guy physically pushing people in with his protruding belly, without concern for anyone else. I’m squeezed up next to a smelly breathed individual and I cringe every time he breathes out. No worries, I’m almost home free. As the doors close, I witness my wife huffing and puffing her way up to the platform. She’s pissed and I smile gleefully as the train pulls out and she’s left standing on the platform. “That’ll teach her,” I mutter under my breath.

I arrive at my stop and am thankful to escape the sweltering car. One more crush to get up the stairs and I’m on my way out of the station, dodging the slow pokes and texters who feel no way about holding up droves of people because they have to check their phones.

A ten-minute brisk walk later and drenched with sweat, I arrive at the office, flustered and tired already. I’ll do the same in the evening again for a grand total of three hours round trip. The good news is that it’s only four days until Friday.

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