Monday, October 6, 2008

Strangeness on a Train

This is a long one. I have lots of complaining to do.

Today I was scheduled for a 10:00 a.m. deposition. This is a delicious time frame for me, because I can get my kids on the bus and get ready to leave without scurrying. My train isn't scheduled to depart until 9:12. I get to the station and the lot is full, so I park a block away and hike back to the station. (It’s a good thing I left early!)

I take the only empty seat left in the car, and I am a little dismayed to see that the window is all smeary-greasy from some sleepy person’s head resting against the window, so I don’t have a clear view of what’s outside without craning my neck forward. The smears are oddly distracting, too. I catch it with the corner of my vision and feel like I need to blink, like it’s something in my eye. Yeah, I’m strange.

We pull out, and the guy behind me starts nibbling on something really hard and crunchy, like bagel chips or those extra-hard beer pretzels. They’re hard enough that he either can’t bite them with his front teeth, or he’s too lazy to do so, choosing instead to cram the entire unit in his mouth. He can’t close his mouth around the food item to chew, and the cracking and crunching of the thing is amplified and projected across the car by his partly-open mouth. Greeeat. (I immediately think of V's post on the subject.)

It seems, too, that he’s got a helluva upper-respiratory infection going on, because, amid chomps of whatever’s in the crackly bag he's got, he’s horking back all manner of mucus. I can hear it rattling in his sinuses and down in his chest. I am wishing I could find a legitimate reason to share seats with someone else (instead of this one all to myself) before he coughs or sneezes and showers the back of my head with snot and chewed food.

The guy next to him starts snorking and rattling too. Niiiiice.

Then I notice all around me there are passengers sniffling and snuffling. The snuffling increases with each group of passengers boarding the train. I can fully understand why people don't carry handkerchiefs any more (oh, yeah, let's tote that grossness in my pocket all day), but nobody seems to bother with Kleenex either. Did I miss that FW: FW: FW: on the Kimberly-Clark boycott? Nobody in this car has a tissue!! I did see one or two ambitious twenty-somethings smearing their noses on their sleeves.

This ride is taking for-ev-er, and I can’t wait to get off the train.

Finally, we’re three stops away from my destination, and I finally get a neighbor in the seat next to me. I could just tell he was going to be my neighbor, too, not only because mine was the only three-seat bench with just one occupant, but also because he was sufficiently suspect-looking with his dark-colored clothing and sweatshirt hood pulled up over his head to just above his eyebrows. I drag my steno case closer to give him a little more leg room (he's got a bag too), jamming my ankles against the wall in the process. Ouch.

Guess what!!?? He’s phlegmy!! I am surrounded by a cacophony of congestion (a symphony of snot, perhaps?), and I’m starting to wonder how long it will be before I’m afflicted with it too. I want to draw my head under my jacket collar and hide from whatever evil bacteria is swirling about me.

The next stop is the college, and thankfully a horde of snifflers get off, taking their books and their boogers with them. The train is almost peaceful with the exception of my immediate neighbors.

We pull into a fairly major station stop, and more passengers detrain. The congested newcomer is sitting at the aisle and asks if this is my stop. I say no, my stop is next, thank you for asking. He sits there for several more seconds and gets off the train. Isn't that odd? Why ask me if I need to get by if you’re getting off the train anyway?

Whatever. My station is next, thank God. I’m a little itchy because I can see that my train is running three minutes late, and I like to arrive fifteen minutes before my scheduled time. I currently have sixteen minutes until my job is scheduled to start, which means I'll arrive ten minutes before start time. Tight, but respectable. I am fortunate that my destination is directly above my station stop, so all I need to do is get above ground, get into the building, and up an elevator. I couldn’t have a shorter walk unless the deposition were taking place in the station.

We start moving, but we stop in the darkness of the tunnel. Drat. This happens sometimes, and I was wishing it weren’t today. But since we’re a bit late, we have to wait for another train.

We move again, and we stop again. The conductor pops his head into the car and informs us that wiring problems on another line created a backlog of trains into the station, so we’re all racked and stacked and waiting our turn at the platform. There’s no cell signal in the tunnel, so I can’t even call anyone and tell them they’re not being “stood up.”

Nearly twenty minutes later, we finally get to the platform. I hustle aboveground and arrive at the office 5 minutes late. ($#&%!!) The secretary immediately leads me to an empty conference room where I begin scrambling to set up. I'm about one-third finished when the ordering attorney walks in. I humbly apologize for and explain my lateness.

He starts apologizing to me. Opposing counsel had a conflict, he said, and he won’t be needing my services after all.

Grrrrr!!!! Back to the train station I go… At least my return trip ran on time.


Wonderful World of Weiners said...


Your comments today about the traffic pickers had me laughing my ass off!!

Hallie :)

Anonymous said...

There is a nasty phlemy cold going around. Four of us have had it. Fortunately it doesn't last long but you use a lot of tissues in that short period of time.

You must have been on the lack of manners train, must of missed the sign on the door when you got on. Hey maybe that's what happened last week when you had the lack of manners conductor.


--V said...

Isn't public transit wonderful? I love sealing myself up in a tin can twice a day to be breathed on by strangers with runny noses and juicy coughs (sorry. Disgusting (though accurate), I know). Sometimes I feel like I should carry lysol in my purse, like a kind of anti-germ version of mace.

Cort said...

Such is the life of a freelance reporter. You go through so much trouble and stress yourself out so much to get to a job on time, and no noe has the courtesy to tell you it's cancelled. Plus, you might have gotten sick on the way there. Ug.

Coffee Bean said...

AAAHHHH!!! Oh my gosh!!!

I cannot stand people snorkeling snot either... or eating cereal... or apples off the core...