The bowels of Penn station.
The ungodly line for a metrocard that makes me just a minute late for work.
The unhappy sighs of a thousand middling business managers, stuffed in too small suits, smelling of coffee.
Oh, how I love commuting.
I try to look at the upside. Look at all the time I have to sit! I love to sit. it's so much better than standing. And to read. I also love to read. Buuuuut it's kind of hard to focus on Junot Diaz's wonderful prose when the snores of the middle aged and overweight are buzzing at your ear. And the train...it smells. Like days old coffee, newsprint, and general dysfunction and unhappiness. If they could bottle that smell they'd make...no money. Because it sucks. Oh, it is not pleasant.
And then there's the conductor, blaring down the aisle, so clearly in control of his hands, ripping tickets off the seat, fingering the dirty cash to give out to those unlucky fools who have to face the onboard surcharge. I'm amused at how quickly they give their change, flipping the coins from their belts. Those belts are so cool; they're a wondrous Batman-like fixture of change, tickets, and awesomeness. Those damn belts are probably(definitely) the highlight of my trip.
The worst part of the ride, I would say, is the absolute SNAILS pace it takes to get from Secaucus Junction to Penn Station. I often see Mexicans whiz by us on their ten speeds, as we languidly push our way across the NJ-NY border. I could probably walk faster than we go on that train. And I walk slow (I have the legs of a chubby toddler). It's at that point that I've really had enough of the train. I am looking forward to work at this point; my comfortable chair, the free coffee and soda, the expense reports, the internet. That little stretch of turnpike looms in front of me and it takes. so. long.
But it's not that bad, I know. I sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. Well, I am. But I'm also somewhat grateful for this opportunity to observe the backbone of our economy, hanging onto their jobs with a white knuckled grip, enjoying the morning paper before reporting to work. It's an experience, for sure.
Plus...sometimes I find free magazines. And that's a perk no smell or long line or on-board surcharge or smelly homeless guy could ever ruin.