A Pictorial Travelogue of
a Fatigued Hand for Hire
Commuting freezes time the same way traveling can extend it. But while staring at fast-moving surroundings can hold the anticipation of wherever one’s is heading to or not, the destination is not really the point of commuting. It’s just getting there and back in time and still in one piece.
So you update your reading, bite your bagel, finish your coffee. Or most likely, fall asleep. Traveling short distances repeatedly has a numbing effect on the mind. Most never get to the sports section. But whether time’s wasted, or enhanced, commuting may offer you a whole lot of things – except the option to abbreviate it.
It’s a way of cutting through a million life stories happening outside your window, that you can’t or won’t care to attend, either because most last just a few seconds, or are simply not that interesting. Commuting is a lesson on indifference about the world around us.
Yet, a lot of us spend an obscene amount of time committed to it, squeezed into it, unmoved by it, back and forth, day in, day out. Like Sisyphus, we keep pushing that hard rock of a day towards the top of the mountain for as long as it’s required. Until someone else takes over and we’re no longer needed. That’s no joyful occasion either.
Being on a set schedule also breeds an odd wish from deep within that still sleepy mind of yours: that nothing ever happens to it. You’d rather not talk, hate if someone sits close and, knock on wood, dread the possibility a maniac lurks on the loose, or a faulty track lays ahead.
So you default to this limbo where you hold the alertness of a ninja with the moroseness of a deranged monk, ready to spring into (more)
* Butt Tally
* Skimmed Vacations
* Street Smarts
action and protect that treasured cellphone, but more likely eager to be left alone in a vegetative state. Either way, don’t fall asleep too hard.
For seasons may change, and steaming days will be followed by sleet and wet snow. Your mood will be uplifting at one stop and downright murderous the next. Even the intermittent line up of facades outside may be demolished by the time you travel back. But for now, you just sit there, counting stations till it’s time to gather your belongings.
If you’re lucky to be awake, you’ll hear the voice announcing your port of call, and warning you not to step into the gap between the train and the platform’s edge. That’s right, you’ve arrived, and this time, you’re on time. But something is bound to be left behind.
You may chase it back in a day or two. But at the end of today, all you’ll wish for is that you could instantly materialize at home, no tickets to misplace or crowds to crush you.
Short of that, your commuting will leave you with a few fleeting memories that you’ll be hard-pressed to keep, and pictures bound to be forgotten. So go on and enjoy this extended break, now. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.
(*) Originally published on Dec. 13, 2013.