Archive for April, 2006
My site clock was off again, due to the “Spring Ahead” of daylight saving time. I fixed it, between posting a comment on yesterday’s entry and posting the previous entry. This is a pain in the ass.
I wonder if new-WordPress deals with this…
The real question is, would I even bother upgrading if it did?
…or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Elevator
Or at least I hope that’s what this story will be within a few weeks…
It’s interesting, being a claustrophobe in Boston. I take a train, crammed full of people. I pile on and off in a sea of silent humans. I use revolving doors. And worst of all, I take the elevator to the eleventh floor.
I’ve been trying very hard not to lose control of my breathing and other functions in all of these cases. I had a particularly bad day over the weekend at my sister’s dorm, in her elevator. I did the thing where I refused to breathe. That is not recommended. At least I haven’t gotten quite so bad this week.
I did have a mild attack on Monday night when one of my coworkers proffered the elevator to me first because I’m the “new girl.” I generally prefer to get on last, so I can be prepared to run off at the other end. But I politely said, “Thank you,” and laughed a little bit about being the “new girl.” I was nervous, but I lived.
The revolving doors aren’t posing quite so much of a problem. At least they are human powered, so I can blow through them at top speed. It’s not so bad. I hope.
The mass of people is a wholly other problem. But I’ve been doing pretty well with that too. Today was a stretch, as I actually felt someone pushing me from behind as I was approaching the entrance to the train car. Even still, I made it, and I didn’t hyperventilate.
I can do this.
In this silent movie
There’s no talking
You’re just an actor
So break into my story
Take it over
Paint me with colour
— “Silent Movie” by Natasha Bedingfield
My alarm went off, like it always has, a low hiss in the background of my mind. I woke up, startled and excited – and completely not rested. I showered and I got ready. I packed things in my bag and I grabbed some granola bars for breakfast. I hurried and I was still late. As I approached the station, my train was pulling away.
It wasn’t a big problem, however, because I was only trying to get in early to handle my bond nonsense. I knew I wouldn’t be late for my first day.
I pulled into the parking lot and was immediately confused. I spotted a box in a small lot that said I should prepay for parking, but I didn’t know what exactly I was supposed to do. I drove past the full small lot to the much larger one and hoped for the best. I began to pull into a space when I saw a sign that reemphasized the need to prepay. Nervous, and not wanting to screw up, I drove my car back down to the small lot and up to the box.
I stared at the box for quite a while before I fully understood what was going on. I was supposed to park my car, look at and memorize the parking space number, and then shove two dollars into a slot that is far too small. Feeling foolish, I got back in my car and drove up to an empty space in the larger lot. I rummaged in my purse and found $26.75, in the largest possible denominations. Luckily, I had vacuumed my car last week, and I knew I remembered spotting some change on the floor. I quickly found two quarters under the passenger seat.
As I got out of my car, I discovered that it was pretty frickin’ cold out. I was not wearing a jacket. I gathered my things and walked for the box that had numbers in the 200s. I was determined not to shiver too much, and I was determined not to look too foolish. I’m really not sure if I succeeded or not.
I decided I was not going to stand outside and wait so long for the next train. It was too cold for that. So I walked back to my numbered space and sat in the drivers seat. I fussed with some things in my bag, and watched as other cars started filing in to the lot. Each car contained one commuter – one savvy commuter who knew exactly what they were doing. They each parked, and waited until about 10-til-train-time to get up and file towards the parking box.
I decided around that time that I could safely go up to the tracks. I stood in the shade, because the sun was too bright, and my hands were planted firmly in my pockets. There was no way I was going to freeze my hands just for sunglasses.
Standing in the shade put me very near the newspaper boxes. I watched as, one by one, people opened the door to the Metro box and took their free newspapers. As they let go, the box clacked shut. I considered taking one as well, but I didn’t think I’d really read it. I was far too excited to concentrate.
Suddenly, a doorbell-like sound began to play from the speaker above my head. Quickly following that came the whistle announcing the train’s arrival. The train dinged and its headlights blinked in perfect time with the doorbell. As the engine whisked by, blowing a stiff breeze as it passed, my face was suddenly plastered with a huge childish grin. I couldn’t help myself. I was going to ride a train! Yay!
I noted something else that excited me as the train was coming to a stop: the cars were double-decker. I couldn’t believe how cool that was. I just knew I would be heading for the top deck.
I filed in with my fellow commuters (who didn’t seem particularly impressed by any of this) and headed up the stairs. I found that every seat had at least one person in it already. To the left, the leather seats were meant for two, and to the right, for three. I decided that I would rather have the room now, so I would sit on the right. I made extremely brief eye-contact with a man whose conspicuous white ear buds hung from his ears and sat down on the aisle end of the bench.
The train was already pulling out of the station as I arranged my bag and my water bottle. I secured them between my feet and sat back. I relaxed for only a brief second before realizing that I should probably be prepared to pay the conductor. I knew already that one ticket would cost me $5.25, so I gathered my found quarter and my five, and clenched them while I waited.
The conductor came up the stairs behind me and started taking tickets, looking at passes, and punching out newly bought tickets. When he reached me, I handed him my money, and he pulled a blue card from his breast pocket. The unmistakable sound of his hole-punch was the only sound aside from the low roar from the train itself. He handed me my half and put the mirror image back into his pocket. He then quickly moved the paper marker in front of us over one slot to the right.
I pulled out my own conspicuous white ear buds and started up my iPod. I decided that only Holy Cole would do. Her album leant the perfect dulcet tones to my exciting journey.
I silently, and as inconspicuously as possible, took everything in. I saw the man on his laptop at the table halfway up the car, after which the seats begin facing the other way. I saw a young guy wearing a shirt and tie under his ratty orange sweatshirt clutching his Honeydew coffee. I watched tiny lady with bangs that would be “salt and pepper” if it were a beard poke at her makeup while looking in her compact.
At the last stop before the train goes express, I allowed a young lady in a nice grey pinstripe suit (why couldn’t I find one like that?) to look me in the eye. She sat between us for the rest of the trip. It only took her a second to settle in and hook up her conspicuous white ear buds.
When we pulled up alongside the Pike (or more likely the Pike pulled up alongside the tracks), I noted that we were moving faster than the traffic. That excited me. I knew then that the express is totally the way to go.
I stared out the windows on the other side of the car, watching the highway and the buildings go by. I saw a familiar landmark and spotted the Boston city limit sign. My heart rate shot up. I was so excited.
The train pulled into Back Bay and I noticed my fellow commuters packing up their things and walking towards the doors. Thank goodness for them! I had no idea where I was or where I was going.
The first thing I saw as I exited the train was the mere chain-link-fence that separates the tracks from the cars on the Mass Pike. The roar of the highway sent all other noises to the background.
I followed the crowd up the stairs and out the revolving door. I wasn’t sure which way to go, but I figured I’d head down hill. It seemed like a good idea, and I proved my hunch when I saw the Pru tower over to my left.
Suddenly, the picture came to an end.
I looked back and saw a familiar face.
“Well I guess we were train buddies!”