Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Train Adventures

The daily commute to and from the office is one of the helljoys™ of being gainfully employed. "Helljoy" is a term I just made up to describe the simultaneously delightful and agonizing experience that is riding the T during rush hour.

Let's start with a general overview of typical rider behavior. Basically, everyone has their eyes glued to something -- their phone, iPad, the Metro newspaper, whatever. We all cram together like sardines of various shapes and sizes. Pregnant ladies or the elderly get seats, as they should. So we riders keep ourselves busy, but often not to a douche level. 

Here's my secret wisdom: there's plenty of space toward the very end of the trains. Why? Because distracted commuters walk through the doors and latch onto the closest handhold. Only trained ninjas like myself duck and weave past everyone, smiling sweetly and saying, "Pray excuse me!" so as not to get punched in the face with someone's handbag before eight in the morning. Then I claim a spacious corner of the train all to myself.

Since I have to go past three of the stations where most people get off at, I get to plump down in a seat halfway through the ride and think about how tired I am. If I have the energy, I will pull out my phone and read BBC. (I reserve my Jezebel reading for after lunch, so that my inevitable rage at something will wake me up from my post-meal stupor.) If all of my brain cells are working, I will remember that I have Final Fantasy II, and I would play that.

My afternoon commute is much easier than the morning one. I slip into a non-crowded train and get a seat. The only problem with that is it gets so full that I can't see which station we're at, and the conductors' accents are usually hard to understand. I usually just use telepathy to determine that I am at the right station.

My train ride back home tonight was different. It was blazing hot today. After I rushed past a fender bender across the street from my office, I somehow got confused about getting in past the gates and onto the platforms. I just walked right through, fully expecting the gates to open for me. It was after the second attempt, with a T worker staring at me, that I realized that one must pay to ride the train. So I sheepishly got out my wallet and made it give the card reader a little kiss. "Pip," it said, and let me in.

I got on the train and sat down next to a dude with a giant tablet. He was playing music so loudly through his earphones that I could hear it. He also smelled pretty funky. Like I said, it was hotter than a sauna today. I really should have mentally prepared for being in an enclosed metal tube with other sweaty humans.

Another dude came and sat down on the other side of me. He also gave off molecules that did not particularly appeal to my olfactory receptors. So there I was, sitting down at least, but stuck between two effluviums. Helljoy.

And then! The guy to my right got up to offer his seat to a middle-aged lady. She smelled nice. And I was like, "Girls smell better than boys!" because at five-thirty in the afternoon, I have the critical thinking skills of a drunk baboon.

A man was making a ruckus by the door when we pulled into the next station. "Take it easy," he kept saying loudly. I assumed he was displeased at being shoved into the train by fellow passengers anxious to get on board, which means he has never been to Japan, where people exist whose job it is to pack people tightly into trains. Nevertheless, he turned out to be a ninja, because he stomped to the end of the car -- where I also was, naturally. The aromatic gentleman who had offered his seat sidled up to him, and they discussed the very thing I shared with you, dear reader -- that people rarely move all the way into the train, thereby creating a pocket of space at the very ends of the car for the enterprising to conquer.

Now you know. May your train adventures be as fruitful and helljoyful as mine.

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