On the train this morning I couldn’t decide if I wanted to start my new book or rest after a sick day of working from home. I decided to at least absorb chapter one to meet the characters and then sleep my way to Cambridge. I set my alarm for my trains arrival and started to read. Once I learned the book premise and was introduced to the characters, I closed my eyes.
I felt someone sit next to me somewhere around Concord but just readjusted my posture and stayed in the zone. Before my own departing stop (or alarm), I was awoken to two hard taps against my seat.
It was the conductor.
The girl next to me had ear buds and closed eyes. Rather than bother her R.E.O. he’d reached across the seat to interrupt my R.E.M.
“When did she get on?”
First of all, I’m thinking he should know. Secondly, I’m subconsciously answering his question with a question “Isn’t that part of your job?” I finally answer out loud, as best I can given the situation and my limited knowledge, “a couple of stops ago.” My seat-mate continued to (pretend to) sleep and the conductor went on his way announcing we were arriving in Belmont. The point of waking me was lost on me.
As I started to settle back in, I realized the young man in front of me was also awakening and seemed unsettled. He took off his baseball cap, sat up straighter and mumbled, “Wait. (Pointless to say on a train.) Did we already get to Waltham?”
A chorus of us said “yes!” as he cursed under his breath. The conductor came back to open the doors and suggested he just wait for the next outbound train to go back. Another man was nice enough to explain where the bus was in town and told him which number to board.
The young man didn’t take advice from either of them. What the sleeper said next was nearly offensive knowing most of the passengers are here because either we don’t like to drive, hate the traffic at this hour or dont know how to easily navigate the city.
The sleepy young man had his error under control. He announced, “I’ll just call my boss to come pick me up.” and stepped into the busy streets of Belmont. I wouldn’t want to be that kid when he asks, his boss when he answers the phone or the customer waiting for their crew to arrive.
It made me sick to think this kid thought it was that easy. I watched he and never even went to sleep “ear bud” girl both leave the train station premises. Evidently, I didn’t have to read or dream to meet some unique characters. They were already with me here in the zone.