<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Whatever Magazine

Issue 2 Contents


Commuter's Notebook


I travel from Providence, RI to Cambridge, Mass. and back every weekday. I like where I live and I don't want that to change. I can't drive because I'd lose my mind in traffic. So I take the Commuter Rail and escape the hassel of cursing other com muters. That was the idea anyway.

This is not to say the train is without its own set of problems. There's work being done on the tracks which guarentees abrubt stops along the way punctuated by the roar of a passing trains and several more jerks which herald renewed yet very tenuous movement towards Boston

I don't like the whistling train conductor. I'm trying to get some much needed sleep and this guy is whistling like he's at a nudie bar at 6:45am. It also bothers me that this guy can't remember I've been riding this train, in this seat, in this car for the past year. If he doesn't see my pass, I've gotta pay up, even though he absolutely KNOWS I shell the $136 on the first day of every month for the pass. The absolute worst though is when this guy spots what he perceives as a commuting babe. He speaks in a voice as equally piercing as his whistle about his big job with the MBTA and his impressive one-year stint in the coast guard reserves. The women are usually very polite to him (after all, you have to see him everyday and maybe, just maybe, on the day you forget your pass, he'll let you slide) but written all over her face (albeit illegibly in the eyes of Monsieur Conductor) is the hope that he'll just go away.

About 45 minutes into the hour-plus-five-or-ten-minutes trip, the train no longer has enough seats to meet the number of commuters. Because I sit in a single seat, other passengers feel free to use my seat area as their table, chair, or fart zone, de pending on how they're feeling that day. Invariably, I wake up irritable; grimacing at two women who are are practically yelling about the most mundane things, wondering if they'll notice a question from me on par with the discussion such as, "And so on Wednesday nights, what time do you have dinner, 5:30 or 6:30?" while I fantasize about skinning them alive.

When the train is about seven minutes from the end-of-the-line, people start lining up to disembark. This is very annoying because it makes everyone else feel unnecessarily rushed. If five minutes are going to make or break you, perhaps you should t ake an earlier train; perhaps this train wouldn't be so crowded; perhaps I wouldn't have to start everyday in a shitty mood. No one cares if their 40-pound briefcase slams into your knee, you must take responsibility for the fact your in the zone of VIPs who don't give a shit about the little guy. Once I complained about a briefcase hitting me in the head, all the guy said was, "Calm down," as if everyone should be prepared for that eventuality and culpability lies in the hands of the victim. I am certain this man molests children.

The trot down the platform and into the station is in keeping with the jockeying for position that goes on inside the train. I thought about quitting smoking but I realized its value as an aggravation to other passengers as well as its potential as w eapon, and am thankful when it irritates someone. I don't use umbrellas, but they too are weapons. After several assaults you acknowledge the importance of these devices and carry one yourself. I wonder if anything anymore is used as it was intended.

Several staircases bring me to the RedLine where I must hustle through the incoming traffic to get to my outgoing train. If I'm lucky, there isn't a tremendously large woman sitting next to me using my leg as a rest for her thigh cheese or a gentlema n cranking his walkman so loud it's making me deaf, but I'm not lucky very often. When I finally arrive at Kendall Square, I avoid the well-dressed, coffee-swilling, "I've got a brand-new pack of cigarettes" beggar who asks me for money everyday even tho ugh I never give him any. When I'm in a particularly bad mood I have to restrain myself from explaining to him why someone who commutes two hours each way has no room in her life for pity or generosity.