Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tales from the Train

Every morning I wake up at 6:30, shower, get dressed, make my coffee and rush out the door with my Aunt and Cousin to head into the city. My Aunt and I find seats on the train and nestle in for the 50 minute commute to Grand Central Station.

I've gotten to be a real commuter over the last four weeks. There is a whole strategy involved in mastering the public transportation system in NYC. You know you are accomplished when you can identify the exact spot on the platform where the doors for the train will open, and select which end of the train you will take your seat on according to where you will be heading once you arrive, and when you get the point where you don't even look at the conductor when he's asking you for your ticket, but instead flash the inside of your wallet at him-- you've arrived. You must always read something on the train. If you aren't reading, you are clearly an amateur. Also, there is no talking. If my Aunt and I are on the train sipping our coffee and reading the Times and two women get on who are talking, we look at each other and mouth the words "talkers" to each other, snicker and look back down at the paper. There is also a whole strategy in choosing the right seat and maintaining some personal space around you. We have it down. We sit in the seating areas right by the doors with seats facing each other and place our bags on the seat beside us- then we honker down and read. We have figured out that if you create an invisible force field of attitude around you, you get to retain your space. It's an art form at this point.

Then there is the crisis and victory which goes along with professional commuting. The other night I was hanging out with a co-worker watching basketball until late. Now I don't have a car so once I get off the train at home, either my aunt has to pick me up or I take a cab from the station to her house. Well I didn't realize the cabs stop running so early from my normal train stop, so I reserved a cab from a larger station in the next town over for 1:00am. I had to catch the 12:06 to make it in time. It was a Friday night and I was about 18 blocks away. I left the bar with plenty of time to catch a cab and make it to Grand Central for the train. But every cab was already taken, so I started walking in the direction of G.C. thinking that at some point I'll grab a cab the rest of the way. Well I didn't and the next thing I know it's 11:59 and I am 6 blocks away. So I start running with a huge bag that contains any earthly possession you might need when commuting - an umbrella, a change of shoes, copious amounts of reading materials. And I run into Grand Central glance at the board see that my train is on the first track inside the doors and make a B-line for the gate. I run onto the train just as the beeping sound started going off and the doors started to close. I MADE IT! Victory!

The next night I went into the city to shop and hang out and caught the 9:22 back out to Chappequa. Well... I wasn't in a hurry this night because I had a rental car at the lot and didn't have to pay for a cab or ask my aunt to go out of her way to get me late. And then, I fell asleep on the train. I've never done that before. And as I wake up, we are pulling away from my stop where I have a car and am only 10 minutes from my bed. So I had to get off at the next stop- the stop with all of the cabs, pay to take a cab back to the other train station and delay my sleeping time by 35 minutes. Crisis.

The thing about public transportation is that there is always something crazy to experience.

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