Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Journey – Part 2

If you need a refresher click here part 1.

Yes, a shuttle bus. I didn’t know it but the station is being worked on so we’re being shuttled to the nearest station. Some people at this juncture would pack it in, not strain themselves to push on. But most people haven’t had my collection of head trauma. I rush outside to be met with a bus with more people in it than many small towns. But I shove myself into this mass and writhe along with my fellow chattel.

I regret not having checked the time while I was in the train station. Now I can’t make myself crazy calculating ETA’s. Instead I focus on the number of red lights we hit (all of them) and the interesting fragrance wafting from at least one of the passengers behind me. A combination of milk about to spoil and a wet muskrat that has recently been sprayed by a skunk.

By the time we get to the next station I know I’ve lost some time. I race up the stairs and see that I’ve lost probably five minutes. I now have fifty-four minutes to get to the end. That’s not good. I race up the stairs, once again slam my card against a reader to spend more money and hustle down to the train.

If there was one there. Shit. I stand on the platform, like everyone else, and wait. I look at the journey and see that I need to pass eight stations, change over to another line for two stops then go up two of the longest staircases you’ve ever seen (that’s what happens when you climb from under the ground. You have to travel some distance) and hustle through two buildings (with two more staircases) until I get to the bus stations ticket office in fifty-two minutes.

This does not bode well.

Three long minutes go by and a train slowly pulls into the station. And within seconds of the door opening the platform is over run by humans with suitcases. Is a suitcase convention in town? Two out of every three people lurching off the train has a suitcase. I juke past a small woman with a giant suitcase she’s having trouble controlling and get into the train. Okay, we can leave now.

But we can’t. There are more suitcase people still on the train attempting to gather up all their suitcases and get off the train. It’s a tsunami of suitcases. Waves and waves of people pass by dragging their suitcases with varying degrees of competency. One woman is pulling her reticent suitcase as if she’s dragging a petulant child. It’s rocking to and fro and making high pitched grinding sounds. But they keep coming.

They must have all alighted the train because the doors close. I quickly check the clock and four minutes has passed. Forty-seven minutes. Not undoable. But it’s not up to me. I am at the mercy of any happenstance. The platform is now devoid of luggage.

So what are they waiting for? Go already. If I took a vote I’m sure 100% of everyone sitting here would say, “Fuck my fellow man, they can get the next damn train.”

But we sit there. Doors open. While              time            ticks            a                  way.

Finally, after four more minutes, we start moving. We’re moving and that’s good for me. Not awesome good but fair good. I know you’re wondering why only fair good. It’s because the train is going six miles an hour. I’d forgotten that the train company added a station due to a large shopping and living center popping up in a once barren wasteland. Oh do I long for the days of that barren wasteland when we’d roar past at breakneck speed. But now it’s a chuga-chuga of a children’s book choo-choo.

We finally pull into the station as gently as a bomb squad technician removes an explosive. Faces glide by as if I’m walking past them. Slowly. With a limp. The doors open and more humanity spills in. Don’t you people have anything better to do? It’s a nice day. Wouldn’t you rather be outside instead of entombed in this metal tube rolling down a track? I know I don’t but some of you bastards sure as hell do.

The train picks up and we’re off. The next station. The next one. We’re making some time now. I get to the stop where I change trains and see that I now have thirty-five minutes to finish this last section. I have to walk across a concourse, get to the train, get off the train and then bust my ass to the bus station.

I’m trying to slip myself through the gaggle of people lollygagging around. It’s as if they’re never seen a homeless guy tongue kissing his pet squirrel before. Fucking tourists. Move it along, Jon Boy! Don’t start getting homesick now. Every time I pass a clock a minute passes. It’s going to be tight and I know it.

Walking across the concourse I notice the guy in front of me. His movements caught my attention. We’re walking on a tile floor that is exquisitely decorated (if you ignore the innumerable unrecognizable stains grafted to the floor) with lines of smaller tiles creating a dividing line. I’d never really thought about this floor before (the aforementioned stains only a small reason for this slight) but it is obvious this guy has.

He stutter steps and steps over every line. Does he not see them as just more tiles? Is it an elaborate game of step on a crack, break your mother’s back? Sometimes he smoothly glides over the lines but then his stride goes a little off and it’s a quick soft shoe until so he can deftly avoid the horizontal tiles. It was quite fascinating to see this glimpse into this guy’s psyche. And it sure made me want to sneak up behind him and give him a pair of wet willies. I’m sure that would have placed him in an hours long fetal position.

I arrive at the next train platform. Half an hour. Tight but I have a good feeling about this. Which was dashed when I got the news that the next train will be along in four minutes. So I do what any person in my position would do. Look around for that goofy footer to test out my wet willie theory.

The train pulls in and we go on our way. Slowly, very slowly on our way. Are there slow children playing on these tracks? Why are we going to damn slow? But we get to the next station. One more and I begin my last push. I’m planning ahead to try to cut off seconds. Old ladies? Turn them into human slinkies if one gets in my way. Someone asking for directions? Five finger death punch to the throat.

While I’m going over my choices I notice a problem. To my left is a twin sized baby carriage blocking that exit. Huddling around the precious cargo are the parents, grandmother and another little cherub (in this situation cherub means obstacle). No problem.

I’ll hit the right egress.

Mother of syphilitic vixens! A gaggle of bicyclists. What are you doing here? Are you just showing us you have these fancy bikes? Showing them a less annoying form of transportation? You have wheels, use them! I look left, I look right. Who in my way hits the ground tonight?

As luck would have it both potential obstacles must have felt my impending evisceration because both ends parted and I could let them go one living their relatively annoying lives.

I get off the train and head towards the bus station. I’m so close but also some vital minutes away. I glance at a clock. It’s 4:55. Twenty minutes left. It’s been awhile since I’ve done this but I do remember it being a rather time sucking walk. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Through the train station, up the stairs, across something, through a thing, down a hallway, it’s as if I’m my own character in some dumb ass video game. I can feel the minutes tick past as the hit the largest of the staircases. As I’m moving towards it I survey my options.

The escalator is action packed. There is a gaggle of roughly thirty people in a tight knot just starting to hit the start of the escalator. I can’t get tied up in that. So I look way up, I mean skyscraper neck crane here, to the top of the stairs. I have my path. Joining me on the stairs is one other guy. He has a lead so that gives me a goal. I’m not only going to beat those lazy escalator people up to the top I’m beating this guy.

And it was harder than you think.

But I did it. I blew past the escalator and the hideous people who reside there on my way to the next staircase about a thousand yards away. It’s a smaller staircase, about 3/4 the size, and I hit it as if I’m being chased. I can feel myself slowing down about midway up. But I can also see something rising up with each step. The top of an analog clock. Each step reveals a little more of the actual time. I see the big hand. The most important hand to me right now. A few more steps and it shows me that I have six minutes to get to the bus station.

Very very tight. Tighter than a tick in a fat guys stomach roll.

I hit the top of the stairs and do what comes naturally. Run.

“No running.” I hear, seriously, eight strides in. I stop and turn to face where the sound came from. A transit cop was standing beside a pole. Just waiting for me my paranoid side says. “You can’t run in here.” He’s being cool, very matter of fact. I’m walking past and it dawns on me.

“Oh, I get it. Some weird ass bald guy racing through a crowded train station could make some people nervous.” The cop laughs and nods. I smile at him as I walk past. “Maybe if they didn’t play the ‘see something, say something’ jingle every ninety seconds people wouldn’t be in such a panic.”

“You have a point.” He says as I continue on past.

I go through the food court. Zigging and zagging around people going in four directions. I hit the door to the train platform that will lead me to the bus station. I see people filing towards me and make the right adjustments around them, beams and garbage barrels. But I’m still moving, still on my way.

I hit the first of three staircases. Complete. The next one is bigger. Then another long walk to the final staircase which is the biggest one in the bus station. I’m walking as fast as one can while thinking, “Don’t move too fast. You’ll panic the weak ones and never make any bus.”

I get to the top of the stairs, move right and head to the ticket counter. I see the clock a hundred feet before I reach the ticket counter.

5:15.

Right on time!

My idiot side says.

But I trundle on. I go up to the counter and ask the guy if I can get on the bus that I know is loading passengers as we speak.

“No. Ticketing is closed. There’s another one at 6:15.”

You don’t say, turd muffin.

“We couldn’t try?”

“It’ll take about five minutes to even process the ticket. By then it’s sure to be gone.” Without irony, pity or sarcasm he says,

“You want one for 6:15?”

I think back on the journey I just experienced and say,

“Fuck it. I’m going to get a beer.”

End of part two.

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The Journey – Part 1

The plan is for me to get out of work on time, hit a bus, a train, a train and a bus to start my weekend at the beach. Now that doesn’t sound all too taxing. Pretty much a lot of sitting. It’s not until you add a few factors into the mix when things can turn hairy.

Things such as I have to catch the first bus ten minutes from the time I close for the day. The stop is only two minutes away so the only thing that can go wrong is customers. If one of those bastards lingers after hours, even after my not so gentle exhortations, it’ll make me miss the bus. So that’s the first obstacle. There are others until I get to the final bus. Late trains, getting caught in heavy but slow foot traffic that you just can’t find a spot to blow past, your own failure to keep up a hefty walking pace, and please don’t have me run into anyone I know while I’m foot bound. It happened once and the person was so pissed (or so they said in an email I looked at days later) after I said,

“Hi. Don’t have time. Say it to me in an email.” While blowing past them.

From the time the first bus leaves I have one hour and five minutes to accomplish this task. And it all begins back at work.

It’s thirty minutes before closing. I see that people are getting closer to wrapping up their day in plenty of time. I begin shutting down my day counting off the minutes. Now I know anything can go wrong in this time period (and by wrong I mean some idiot comes in) but, at this moment, all cues are in place.

Sixteen minutes to closing the front door opens. I say bad words in my head. I say more bad words in my head when I see who it is. Please, let me explain my heady outburst. Yesterday this same person came in asking to buy boxes. Simple, cardboard boxes. I point him to the display that he just walked past. He wandered over, stared at the five choices then went about inspecting said boxes as if they were the Hope diamond. Checking all angles, thumping it for some unknown to humans reason, shaking it (huh? As my Zen master Wong says, “Empty boxes contain no sound. Why the hell are you shaking it, jackass?” Wong’s a good Zen master but he has a pretty short fuse).

He then puts the box he wants on the counter. An unnecessary step. Do you know why? The name of the box is plastered across the front of the box. Say the name and the box whore will go gather it. I don’t need to see the physical manifestation of  the box. I am aware of what the damn box looks like, jackass. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

After he places the box on the counter he says, “I’d like. . .”

And then he spends the next twenty seconds (and I am not exaggerating) staring at the box. Twenty seconds. Do you know how long that is when a person is staring at a box? It’s twenty fucking seconds too long, let me tell you. Don’t believe me? Stop reading now and stare ahead for twenty seconds. You started to lose it after ten, didn’t you? No? It wasn’t that long? Okay, send me your address. I’ll visit you and punch you in the head for twenty seconds. Do you think it’ll fell long then? Glad you got my point.

So this is the obstacle I have between me and bus #1. He comes in and I see what transaction is going to take place. I estimate a time and feel his completion of it will fall within a comfortable spot. Which proves what a fucking idiot I am.

My first inkling that something was about to go awry was when someone grabbed the doorknob to my office. In my experience when that happens someone is panicked. First because they’ve never touched that door before and second because the door they have always opened to discuss issues with me is right next to it. After a beat he opens the correct door, sticks his head inside and says,

“I forgot my keys. I have to go back to my house.”

I don’t panic. I’m no rookie. I look at that guy and say,

“You really are a fucking moron, aren’t you?”

No, I didn’t say that! That would be rude! Correct, but rude.

Instead I looked at the clock, twelve of , twenty-two minutes to bus #1, and say,

“You have ten minutes.” He swiftly exits and I continue moving my work day closer to completion.

Three minutes to closing and the group here completes their task and waves me a grand goodbye. Two minutes to closing the front door opens and the key forgetting box inspector enters. Wordlessly (Zen master Wong taught me that. “If you can’t say anything pleasant to another remain quiet and seethe.” He really is full of wisdom) I guide his entrance to the building. I lock the door as he goes about his task and I end my day.

And wait.

I’m watching him on the camera and he’s moving. In a sloth like manner. But it’s still movement. Two past the hour. Eight minutes to bus #1. Four past the hour. It looks as if he’s nearing completion. But he stops. Why are you stopping? Please don’t think about why you’re stopping. I sure as shit don’t have time for that level of contemplation. Six past the hour. He reaches the front
of the building. I begin to tidy up after him and quickly get to the absolute end of my work day. Eight past the hour I am out the door. Two minutes to go two minutes. Piece of cake.

Unless the bus driver, as often happens, decides to leave a touch early. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned the corner just in time to watch the bus pull away. But I don’t think that will happen today. I have faith that I can make it.

If this damn customer would stop talking to me! I’m trying to get past but he wants a little chat time. What he doesn’t know is, as mentioned earlier, I’m an on the fly chat off expert. My feet don’t stop as I wittily respond to his statements but, possibly before he knows I’m gone, I’m in the street heading for the first of many finish lines.

I turn the corner and the bus is there. The traffic is in my favor so I dash across the street and get to the bus just as the driver was reaching for the lever to shut the door. I calmly slap my card on the reader, the ching of money being spent is heard and as he pulls away I glide to my seat.

I now have sixty-five minutes to make it to my final bus.

The ride to the first train station is rapid and uneventful. We’re making good time. I’m counting down and we’re on schedule. We pull into the first train station and I rush in, turn the corner and notice that all the turnstiles are blocked off by temporary fences. This stops me in my tracks, obviously. I look around trying to see what the issue is when I see it. The sign that is the bane of the harried commuters existence.

“Station closed. Shuttle bus this way.”

Not a shuttle bus?!??!?!?!

End of part one.