Friday, December 1, 2006

Day Shift

Time awake: 5 am.
Time on bus: 7 am.
Start work: 8 am.

Sounds like a pretty nice schedule doesn't it? Well, it helps if everything runs smoothly but if it did I wouldn't be writing this would I? So far this week I've been late twice and neither of those two times has it been my fault (no, honestly). Tuesday morning bright and early, less bright more early, I find myself struggling to get to the bus. A walk that normally takes me an easy 7 minutes now took over 25; why you may ask? Seven inches of glare ice and 3 feet of snow covering the road and sidewalk respectively, that's why. Second stop from the bus loop and even at this time the bus was jammed. We were packed in there tighter than pickles but somehow we made our way, carefully, down the 'snake hill' (aptly named) to the train station. After exploding out of our rumbly 16 window shared limosine the whole lot of us must have looked like the guy from that old poem 'Night before Christmas', for what did our wondering eyes did we see? A sea of people crammed onto the platform and sandwhiched together tighter than.. well I've already used pickles so I guess sardines is better. Shoulder to shoulder people. The platform itself is about 50 ft wide x 150 ft long, that makes for a lot of people.

It's now 7:36 a.m. and I can hear the murmurs of the train coming along; sure enough there it is in it's four car glory. Yet what's this? Packed?! No, not just packed, STUFFED. It almost looked like the very doors were bulging with the excess amount of people jammed inside. A look around and it didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that all of the people on the platform are not going to fit inside. What comes next is the obligatory arm shove, scream, flourish of obscenities and eventually the bitter taste of failure after you find yourself unable to barge your way through a seemingly impenetrable barricade of bodies. You stare hopelessy as you are mere inches from the doors before they slide shut with that annoying (at least at this hour) chime and then you watch, depressed, as the train glides off at it's drunken pace towards the next station.

7:42 a.m - I stand with 500 other depressed souls all staring up the line in baited anticipation for the next train. Oh please God, I pray in desperation, let it come soon! God must have a twisted sense of humor because it is over 10 minutes before the next train slides to a stop infront of me. Now, another mad dash to get to the door which, had I calculated better, should have been right there infront of my face. After another attempt at squirming through and being reminded of the salmon I saw once trying desperately to swim upstream to spawn, I am again faced with defeat and pushed aside just before I am able to get a foot inside the door. Damn you! The words, not those words, came to my mouth quicker than I would have thought and the gentleman (I use the term loosely) who managed to overthrow me gloated in his victory all the while waving at me from behind the closed door. Karma is a bitch, I remind myself before composing myself in the most respectable manner I could on this bitter fall day and prepare for another seige upon the white chariots (train). I only have to wait another 5 minutes before the next one and this time I am prepared. I remember my high school Japanese class, and the video we watched of the subways over in Tokyo and how people managed to get on them. So, in a determined fashion I thrust my elbows up, my head bows and it is in that manner that I am able to bulldoze my way through the swarm and receive the trophy for my struggles: the last available seat right beside the door. Victory is mine!

Now the problem consists not of getting on the train but more of getting off. Those that were behind me were able to shove their way across the width of the car and were now blocking my escape. I did not worry about this, or rather realize it, before I need to exit the car at the next station. When at last the thought occured to me that I might never get out of the train and that I would be stuck and subsequently travel far away from where I needed to go, I managed to get up and shove my way closer to the other door. Unfortunately, those that were disgruntled at my behavior at the previous stop impeded my advancement to the other side and so, with a heavy heart, I stared at the platform recede from view and managed only to turn my thoughts to how I would get off at the very next stop. Thankfully, God smiled on me (this time out of generosity and not humor) and I saw that many other people were preparing themselves to fight to get out. My chance! I once more took charge and as soon as the doors opened I thrust my way through to land triumphantly on the brickwork of the platform. Aha! Sweet, fresh air!

The last of my journey was mildly uneventful aside from (of course) the bus being broken and having to wait, stranded, in the cold, for over half an hour before the next one came. The only words of consolation I had upon arriving at work was earning a new nick name given by the Lead Hand: "My little snowman".

I suppose all cannot be that bad. I did get to work, albeit over an hour and a half late. But at least I got there.

Going home was not quite as bad, thankfully.

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