Ah, rush hour: a movie with Jackie Chan and a double headed necessity each day of workweek. I confess that my unfortunate inclination towards claustrophobia clouds the cultural upside to my urban commute. And there is an upside, but more on that later. With each stop and extra scarf bearing passenger I have to fight my mind’s mischievous ways.
|Pardon, you right finished
with the Standard?
My uncomfortable thoughts want to bend what my eyes correctly see. The tube tapers; the ad-ridden walls and hand-decorated rails creep inwards on top of the crowded isle. Bitterness dominates the vibe and scarves tighten on their own. The train twists between chassis and grows taller towards the back. People standing behind me, from where I just came, expand from the waist in opposite directions like they stood in front of a carnival mirror; the herd that I chase in front of me smash down into the hallow ground and out from the belly towards our destination. Like a Russian babushka nesting doll, the train unwraps a smaller self onto the steel tracks, and only when I safely reach the platform can I climb out of the box and escape the stale air.
Right, I meant to talk about the upside. And yes, I had to google babushka nesting dolls.
A payoff for giving way to the will of London Transport is the awesome people watching. You know what? People are very clever. They can read the newspaper whilst their elbows are pinned to their ribs. They can play Angry Birds on their iPhones, with one hand. They can sleep standing up. Most clever of all, and what prompted me to write about my commute today (sorry, I didn’t realize how suffocated I felt this morning), is this:
The train was particularly bumpy for some reason, and the crowd just started to mind the gap and give those of us standing some relief. But not enough relief to find a seat, not even enough to find something to grab hold of. So there we were, in a no man’s land [can no man be possessive?]. I’ve been there before, right between two doors with nowhere to go.
When the train bumps out of the station, you have to take a stance, like you are surfing, just to keep yourself vertical. It’s actually pretty comical. I’m not going to lie, I sometimes throw a hand out in the air to keep my balance. Well anyway, this dude – a very clever dude, at least to me – did something that caught my attention. He switched his briefcase and backpack to his near shoulder and, let me see if I can get this, he used the weight as a counter-balance so that when the conductor released the break, and the train abruptly took off, he was perfectly balanced. The thing is, he knew exactly how clever he was – I know this because he grinned and looked around to see if anyone noticed. I did. I’ll give it a try when the time comes, though I will probably spare you a full report, especially if I just made all of this up (or fall).
Re-read the above. I guess this is just an observation and self-diagnosis of claustrophobia (and now maybe hypochondria, I swear I must have that too).