I was gored by a bull today. That’s what I call it when I accidentally encounter an opposite moving commuter as I make the dash down the steps to my Redline train. One of the things I’ve become adept at is choosing the right car on the train so that I can more easily make my commute in the shortest possible time. I really actually kind of enjoy the weird ebb and flow of my train commute.
Starting in Ipswich in the predawn I get on the train with my fellow sleepy travelers. We nod at each other, but mostly conversation is limited. By the time we reach North Station we’ve been jostled by tracks and fellow passengers and are mostly awake, we stream off the train and I get my coffee at the Dunkin’ there. Across the street we go where the traffic cops are holding the cars back as pedestrians obscure the entire intersection. It’s a good thing the cops are there because if walking in Boston has taught me anything, it’s that people are going to walk whether the light says to or not.
Most days my Forrest Hills train is rolling in as I get to the bottom of the escalator but the car I want is the second to the last one. The last car is really the best car but everyone knows it, so it’s always so packed that the last car is only an option if you also want to get to know your neighbor well.
We pull into Downtown Crossing and this is where the running of the bulls begins. It’s not Pamplona but it’s just as serious and much less cruel to animals. The wave of Orange line riders breaks and takes over both sides of the stair case which is how I was gored this morning, I felt bad for the poor isolated man trapped in the deluge, but not bad enough to offer more than a casual “sorry!” as I jogged down the stairs. As I was halfway through the tunnel I heard the rumble of a train and the announcement that my train was arriving and the crowd surged. We made it into the last few cars before we rolled out.
Arriving at my stop I’m always the only or one of 2 riders getting off. There’s not a lot of business in my school’s area but as I emerge I cross the weird intersection, often against the light, and stroll down toward my school. Sometimes I run into parents and sometimes I see co-workers. It’s actually kind of relaxing.
I arrive at the building somewhat mellow and about halfway to my step target for the day. It’s a process and sometimes I really long for a shorter commute but I’m also in a mindset for work when I arrive so that’s nice.
Going home is the reverse, if I was shifted from humanity on my way to work, there is definitely a feeling I am being folded back into the masses. By the time we reach the crosswalk to North Station we are walking lock step past the panhandlers and the street cops and the sports fans jockeying for a place in the line leading to the garden. We break and flow into the train station where we end up standing in front of the board until our train is called.
By the time I’m on my way back to Ipswich the trains are quiet again, everyone has had a long day and we are ready for it to be over and to arrive home.
Commuting by train is very different for me but I also really like it. I don’t have the same kind of anxiety about car accidents and maintenance issues, and I don’t have the same kind of frustration that I had when I used to sit stuck in traffic. Anyway it’s an adjustment but I walk more now and I feel more active and I like that.