Thursday, June 07, 2007

Do You Want A Banana?

Closing in on two months of commuting into New York now, I've experienced a host of things that, although they are only mildly weird, are weird nonetheless. I’m always tempted to take video of the men and women of New Jersey running from the escalators to the train platforms in the Secaucus station at the sight of a New York-bound train, even though there are New York-bound trains about every four minutes. People running at that hour, in business casual attire, with their mouths hanging open and their brows furrowed in concern, all while suffering from the thickening that comes from having had desk jobs for years bear a striking resemblance to a flock of really awkward birds being chased, and trying to decide whether or not they should put a little more feather into it, or maybe attempt flight.

And I’m not kidding about the four minutes thing either. The platform between tracks A & B in Secaucus lists the following trains at 7:30 in the morning:

7:33 to New York Penn Station
7:38 to New York Penn Station
7:42 to New York Penn Station
7:45 to New York Penn Station
7:51 to New York Penn Station
7:57 to New York Penn Station

That’s six trains from 7:33 to 7:57. You do the math.

This is less weird, but I still can’t understand why the inbound morning commute should have such a somber, almost crypt-like cast to it. And yet it does. There are days when the hum-screech-rattle soundtrack of the train is only interrupted by the occasional snippet of that gratingly cheery badada bing bong bing sound of someone’s Blackberry receiving a text message.

It’s not like I don’t understand that everyone is sleepy, grumpy, or another of the seven dwarves while they’re on their way to work. It’s just that the difference is so profound on the way home. A lot of the time, there are recognizable characters from the morning, somehow reanimated, awakened from their zombie-like stupor so they can chat away on their cell phones and laugh with the guy in the ill-fitting polo shirt who gets off at the Radburn station in Fair Lawn.

Me? I spent most of May playing travel Scrabble with my friend Christine on the Northeast Corridor train from New Brunswick to Penn Station. We got sugar highs from donuts and cupcakes and spent more than one ride laughing hysterically all the way to the office. Clearly, we were the weird ones, not to mention a distinct minority among the grumbling would-be sleepers who were kept awake by our inane twittering. But whatever. It's hardly average, but it’s still a better way to spend your ride, in my opinion.

This is all a circuitous way of mentioning the bit of oddness that occurred this morning, when the crowd emerging from the pits of Penn Station onto 7th Avenue were greeted by girls of various ethnicities, clad in loud-colored bikinis, handing out bananas for free. That is weird.

But hey, free banana.

I'm thinking about saving the peel for the aisle of the 7:02 AM train out of Ho-Ho-Kus tomorrow morning, just to throw a little hint of anarchy into everyone's morning.

1 comment:

Pete said...

I suspect you are looking at an awful lot of people who simply hate their jobs.

That, or they are not morning people, which could be the case, because I really like my job a lot, but nonetheless am in a sort of stupor for the first two hours in the morning.

I attribute this to not getting to see CHiPs before work, but hey, I could be wrong.

In a similar story to yours, Mrs. VFR and I decided to not put a television in our living room.

There is one downstairs available for viewing at any time complete with cable, but not upstairs.

We find that we are, in essence, too lazy to walk downstairs to watch TV. Out of sight, out of mind.

(Now that Lost is finished for the season, anyway).

But we, gasp, go for walks, read the newspaper, eat dinner together in a non-zombie state.

And WE are the weird ones.