Sunday, August 06, 2006

Just another manic Sunday...

It’s Sunday morning, and here I am, on the train once again. Sunday mornings on the train are akin to a crapshoot, and this time, despite an initial setback, I thought I’d ended up in the winners’ circle. Having left the house a few minutes late (later than my usual running late), I kept my eye on the clock as we raced to the station. I wasn’t terribly worried, given that the train has been prone to running a bit late these days, with Sundays being no exception (if anything, they’re even later). Was it just me, or were there far more people on the platform than usual for this train? No train had been cancelled, but it still seemed awfully crowded. My fears were confirmed when the train finally pulled into the station, already packed to the gills like a sardine can, and judging by the number of people who were trying to get on the train, a sardine can would have been much more comfortable.

“Okay, I thought. Forget the express train. Sure, you’ll get there faster, but do you really want to spend 40 minutes in sheer, hot and smelly misery, unable to lean on or hold on to anything? Is this the way you want to start the week?” My inner self responded with a resounding “NO”, and knowing that there would be a regular train leaving three minutes later, where I could easily grab a seat, I shuffled down the stairs and headed for the other platform. No sooner had I staked out what I had assessed to be the best spot for waiting (based on a most complicated combination of mathematical formulas, coin tossing and 4.5 rubs on my lucky rabbit’s foot, all in that order), when an announcement was made, relaying the news that the train would be fifteen minutes late.

Sigh. I look at my watch and think for a moment. Suddenly, a coffee-colored light bulb goes on in my head. Fifteen minutes. Fifteen long minutes. Practically an eternity. I shuffled back down the stairs from whence I came, glanced at the express train, where many people were still queuing to get on, despite the obvious lack of room, and scooted out through the gate towards the kiosk, where mercifully, my clever idea for passing the time hadn’t caught on yet. A few moments later, I was making my way back to the platforms, with a cup in my hand and joy in my heart. Once again I began shuffling down the stairs to the far platform, when rather abruptly, the first milligrams of caffeine kicked in, setting my still-sleeping brain cells in motion. With sudden clarity, I realized that instead of waiting fifteen minutes for the regular train, I could wait twenty minutes and grab the next express train. Pure genius!

With far, far less people waiting for this express train than had been waiting for the previous express train, I joined their rather thin ranks, pleased that I’d managed to figure this one out on my own and not (yet again) missed a golden opportunity to travel in both speed and comfort.
Or so I initially believed. Given that earlier trains were running behind schedule and ours had arrived on time, it soon became clear that this wouldn’t be the quickest ride I’d ever had with Israel Railways, as we ambled along slowly due to the trains ahead of ours. At least it was an express train, and I’d managed to grab two seats to myself, with no one sitting across from me. Not too shabby, eh? Once again, my joy was short-lived, as they announced that our train would become a regular train, stopping at all upcoming stations, all the way into Tel Aviv. I managed to retain my two-seat status through the first station, but my bubble burst as we reached the second, as two chatty women joined me and the soldier sitting diagonal from me, alternately reading his book and sleeping.

And so, a mere hour and forty minutes after leaving my son at home with a kiss on the forehead, I got off the train and pushed my way through the throngs of soldiers and civilians on the platform, all completely oblivious of the existence of anyone but themselves. By the time I reached the stairs, I’d kicked my share of duffle bags, thrown enough elbows to get several minutes in the penalty box, and received a painful yet colorful bruise on my back, just below my shoulder, from the weapon of a random soldier. Fifteen minutes and one aggravated get-it-all-out-of-my-system rant to my husband later, I slithered into the office building, wilted from the heat and humidity, and essentially feeling like a lettuce leaf that was well past its sell-by date.
I always worry when the week starts off on the wrong foot, and wonder how such an auspicious beginning bodes for the rest of the week (especially after the “alarming” weekend I’ve had). Only two requests, please. Let us be safe, and let there be coffee.


Anonymous said...

"Let us be safe and let there be coffee."

I'll give an "amen" to that.

RR said...

Look at it this way- with a crappy start like that, the week has GOTTA get better!

I just read that the IDF took out the launcher that fired at Hadera. That's a bit of good news, ain't it?

Arik said...

Hmm... Sounds like you've been riding with an old friend of mine, Mr. Merphy L. Aw... :)

However, as a train commuter my self here is my tips for you - still I loose from time to time to Mr. Merphy...

1) Do not come to the station ON TIME
2) If you feel like running to the train, walk slowly instead. You will probably miss it.
3) If you think you have enough time before the train arrives, you'd better hurry, the trains are running especially late and you are about to miss the one that arrived very late.
4) Change door calculation formula from time to time. This will make you ahead of the herd that is still using the old formula.
5) And the MOST IMPORTANT ONE - get on the first train you see no matter how packed it is. The next one might get delayed more.

More tips are for real advanced users like; How to pick the right seat? (Sun, Wind, Aircondition parameters), What to wear? How to use the "Israeli" free papaer and what is it good for? ETC...

tafka PP said...

And let there be chocolate. (I was watching Blackadder Goes Forth last night, there will always be coffee!)

squarepeg said...

If this post doesn't get me to shut up already about my 35 minute drive to work, then I'm a bloody lost cause! You are indeed a hero in the army of wage slavery, m'dear!