I took the train into the city a few days ago for a one-day workshop (for work). I loved being among the regular commuters, watching their behaviour. No one looks up. Most people sleep or read. There is one or two groups of people who know each other and chatter. Some people are texting or listening to their iPod. For the most part it is silent.
I managed to grab a copy of the Metro paper – mostly for the crossword and sudoku puzzle – but I’m interested to see the top news stories. I really should pay attention to the news more. And then I start thinking about getting a subscription to the paper.
Taking the train is really great. Someone else gets to drive you to your destination. No traffic – no rush – no stress.
As the train rolls from stop to stop, I look up occasionally from my paper to gaze out the window or around the train. The sun is up above the horizon and I could see the neighbourhoods and businesses waking up. People are out on the streets walking or cycling. Even though it is chilly outside, the sights outside my window seem to have a cozy feel.
I see grotty housing projects in neglected neighbourhoods that seem like home. I miss living in the city. I notice how much garbage there is everywhere – in parking lots, in backyards, in industrial lots. We are a dirty species – and it would take a lot of human-power to clean all of this up.
Before long, the train pulls into Union station and I sit in my seat, waiting as everyone else around me gets up to stand in the aisles so they can file slowly off the train. I am sitting comfortably, watching them. They are using their phones, folding their papers, fumbling for their metro-pass or change, all while balancing a coffee or pastry. For many of these people, the journey is not yet done. I miss being one of them.
Most of them still do not look up. They stay comfortably in their bubble of “no eye-contact.” The commuters shuffle along like well-trained cattle through a chute. They don’t need to look where they are going, because the path has been memorized from daily trips.
This makes me so glad I am me, and watching from where I am. Although I miss the city, and this experience – I don’t miss being a robotic, seemingly emotionless particle in this mass of people. Maybe they are all still half asleep?
They begin filing off the train, and when the aisles clear I finally get up to exit the train. I remember where to go – but I look up happily, enjoying how different today is from my normal working day. It’s nice to do something different.