Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Raining Commutes

Public Transportation: (
pub-lick trahnz-poor-tay-shun) n. 1. The act of submitting to a shared and unreliable schedule to get from starting point to designated end point. End points may shuffle en route depending on additional outside factors. 2. Cesspool that acts as a direct feeding ground for communicable diseases, nauseating odors and wildly unpredictable and uncomfortable personal and environment temperatures. 3. A cruel joke.

My morning's have been filled with delays and issues and unexplained mysteries, all thanks to the NJ Transit system. Well, in fairness, Mother Nature seems to be throwing in some colorful curve balls, and there are always the non-bus driver's looking for their fifteen minutes of car exploding, hair frying, fender bending fame. But I feel like putting blame where blame is due is the easiest way to focus my frustrations. The buses. Instead of speaking in general terms, allow me to be specific.

Monday morning. There is a steady flow of rain outside my window. I dress accordingly, grab my umbrella, and walk over to the bus stop. I am waiting on a fairly open and busy road. A road that I am sometimes so thankful for an ever-present breeze. In increasingly heavy rain, stagnant air still evades this street. Having gotten to the bus stop about ten minutes early, I earnestly hope that my bus will show up within the next ten minutes. I arrive early for no other reason that when I do not, it comes early. Anyone unamused by early arriving buses, feel free to contact and hire me to stand at the bus stop early. It is guaranteed to at least be on time. Monday morning, the bus was 25 minutes late. Thirty five minutes of sideways rain for me. I get on the bus, get one block down, someone gets off, another man gets on, and the bus's engine shuts off. This is new. Everyone is whispering, looking around. The people that naturally turn obviously to stare at every movement or potential movement are darting their heads around so often that I close my eyes. Our bus driver spent a few minutes on the phone, and then instructed all of us to get off of the bus. As we are shuffled out of the warm, muggy, dry bus, we pass by a large black container left on the bus by the person who had left the bus on that stop.

It looked like an old, inexpensive guitar case. But better safe that sorry? Right? Maybe? We walk another block down to wait for a different bus, and after minutes of appearing patient, I brusquely walk past and ahead of the herd. I have seen some of these people on the streets on New York City. Why are you taking baby steps in slow motion? Yes, I am aware that I am walking full speed ahead to more uncovered waiting ground, but certain speeds should be allowed only of the invalid or the drugged. Police cars shut down the main, windy road, and encircled the bus. I later saw the bus drive off, never to be spoken of again. I was probably on it the next morning.

The drive in was as to be expected. Slow, choppy and filled with buses waiting their turn to filter into a single lane. And then, after over 2 hours after I first positioned myself to brace the wind and still have a clear view of oncoming traffic, I arrive on the island of Manhattan. The city that never sleeps. I have heard that lack of sleep can cause serious long-term health risks and immediately short term personality issues. I believe what I have heard to be correct.

As I stepped out of the Port Authority, I was met with a barrage of angry umbrellas. Now, don't allow me to paint this picture of a dainty out-of-towner who couldn't imagine why someone wouldn't hold the door open for me and patiently allow me to open my umbrella. I have no qualms about how to play defense and offense in New York City. But between newly added scaffolding, what can only be described as torrential downpour and, by all appearances, a street filled with tweaking Methamphetamine addicts, I was attacked. Person after umbrella after person slammed into me, including a sweetheart of a man who body slammed me into a pole of scaffolding that shook and dumped water all down my back. I make it "safely" to the street corner. The five by six foot area of concrete on the corner of 40th and 8th Avenue. The corner where everyone who works south and/or east of the Port Authority s forced to push up against each other, I felt an umbrella vying for space with my own.

There are days where I hold my ground based on sheer spite. My umbrella was here first and I don't care that I am sliding on a subway grate right now, I will not relent. This was not one of those mornings. I just had nowhere else to move my umbrella too. There was no visible air space. So I was forced to grip my small umbrellas handle with both hands, shaky arms, and a very shaky sense of patience, while a grown man, with an over sized umbrella pushed into my own. The snap that soon followed was, of course, my own. And as the light turned green, and the pressure relented, water poured directly straight down inches from my face. And because of NYC's anonymity, and its lack thereof here, I will not share the verbal expressions that came out of my very polite mouth. And his only reply? A smirk. Because what is left to be said? I broke your umbrella in the pouring rain and you are looking like you have just went three rounds with Mike Tyson.

More like three transfers with the NJ Transit, buddy.

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