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An Open Letter to Commuters

Today was my last day making the commute between CT and NYC. Today, my commute took about 2hrs.

Each way.

Starting on Monday, however, I will go back to an easy breezy 15 minutes. Or 11 blocks. Or 4 songs on the iPod. Any way you slice it, it's a beautiful thing.

And commuting hasn't been cheap! Between rental cars and train tickets, parking lots and gas, getting back and forth to work since I was dumped has cost me $2,545.95. But I needed to get to work, to earn more money, so I could afford to commute, right?


Anyway, I haven't used public transportation regularly to get to work in about 5 years. When I lived in the city, I walked, obviously. When I lived in Jersey, I drove (which, mind you, is its own personal brand of Hell -- trying to squeeze all that traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel is like trying to suck a bowling ball through a straw).

So I forgot just how HORRIBLE it is to be packed like sardines on a speeding train with hundreds of strangers.  It's like a smorgasbord of awfulness.

Riding the rails shouldn't be an assault on your senses. But it is. Don't know what I mean? Read on...

SIGHT: Just yesterday, I watched a grown man gnaw his fingernail off and pick his teeth with it. I know. I just threw up in my mouth a little, too. So, commuters, here's a tip: Handle your hygiene at HOME. That means no public nail clipping, nose picking, flossing, or scratching in inappropriate places. I don’t want to see it. Nobody does.

SOUND: Do I need to know that you forgot to thaw out the chicken? Must I hear you discuss the results of your pap smear? Is it really necessary to subject me to the lecture you are giving your teenage son for getting a ANOTHER speeding ticket? I know we're all busy at work and don't always have time during the day to tend to personal matters, but consider the train to be a moving office. If you are not working, chances are, the person next to you probably is, and does not welcome you yammering on your cell phone. So quit it. And please don't talk to me either. You sound like a freak and I'm not as friendly as I look.

TASTE: I totally get grabbing a snack for the ride home. Who doesn't get the munchies? But you shouldn't need to hunker down to a 3-course meal on the train. Somehow, I'm always sitting in the car with the broken air conditioning next to the guy -- or girl -- who is stuffing their face. The food you are eating on the train shouldn't be so pungent that I can taste it. This means no popcorn, no greasy fast food, no drippy bacon egg and cheese sandwiches, no strong-smelling ethnic foods of any kind. Try a pretzel. Or if you absolutely MUST consume a meal on the train because your kitchen at home burned down, how about a nice salad? Just don't get a fast food salad. Paying McDonalds (or Wendy's or Burger King) for a salad is like paying a whore for a hug.

TOUCH: Keep your knees to yourself. Don't let them brush up against mine, and then casually leave them there, waiting for me to notice. Don't put them in between my legs and let them bobble back and forth as the train bounces over the tracks. And don't fall asleep and block me in with them. Don't touch me and I won't passive-aggressively try to trip you on the platform. Deal? Deal.

SMELL: In the morning, professional people should smell like soap, not stink like last night.  I can pick out who chopped onions for dinner, or who was out on a bender and slept in his suit.  Am I psychic?  No, I leave that to Paul.  I know these private things because my nose tells me.  And I don't even know your name.

Yes, navigating amidst the huddled masses is a sensory minefield. The next time you're on the subway, or Metro North, or NJ Transit, or the LIRR, look around. If at least 1 of your 5 senses ISN'T being offended, I will give you $1. But if it IS, you owe me.

I figure at that rate, I'll make back my $2500 in roughly 3 weeks.

So, am I being totally neurotic, or has ANYBODY had a similar experience?  Share them below!

tags: city life, gross, travel, work


Roger said...

From 4 hours to 30 minutes. That is all kinds of awesome.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHA! This post had me howling. Thanks for the laugh.

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Rog: I know... so excited for my commute in the morning.

Anon: You're welcome! Glad you could relate.

Anonymous said...

this morning on the subway a guy standing over my seat burped the alphabet.

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #2: Wow. Who needs a guitar when you have gas? Did anyone tip him?