I’ve been a commuter for 3.5 glorious years. And I have to say, commuting gets a bad rap. It’s not that terrible. In fact, I quite enjoy that 2 hours per day all to myself. Some people sleep. Some people stare out the window. Some people stream TV series. Some people delight in trashy social media binges & young adult fiction novels. But that time? It’s my time. No one can bother me. No one I know at least. My fellow commuters on the other hand – those familiar faces you see every day but you’ll never know their names or their stories? I’m sure most of them are lovely people. But I’ll admit, some of them have been grating on me over the years. I’ve come to appreciate the cast of characters who accompany me to work every day, and my guess is if you too ride a train into the big city each day, you may even know some of these guys (or their brethren).
Pushy Foreign Guy
He’s small, he’s nimble, and his backpack is his secret weapon. I’ve convinced myself it’s cultural, but it sure does feel awfully personal when this dude pushes past me each morning to get through those doors before anyone else. It’s become a bit of a game for me, and I know it’s going to be a good day when I get a foothold on that sharp left down the aisle before he manages to cut me off from the right side. I know chivalry is dead, and don’t expect any favors when good seats are scarce, but this guy would trample your grandmother to avoid sitting in the dreaded middle spot.
Guy Who Smells Unclean
Tide is expensive, I get it. But if you’re a working professional and are going to be around people be it in an office or even on an early morning train ride, you gotta wash your clothes after wearing. I can’t imagine it’s a conscious choice to smell like mildew, but maybe it’s time to throw one of those cleaning tabs in the washing machine. Or perhaps change your shampoo. I don’t know what it is exactly, because I try not to get close enough to truly figure it out. There is nothing I’d like less than standing on the train for 53 minutes at that ungodly hour when most civilized humans are still sleeping, but if there is only one seat in my car of choice and it’s next to him, I’ll stretch my legs thank you very much.
Every minute in the morning counts. I try to leave the house with ample time to get to the parking lot and onto the platform, with a little cushion for traffic lights or the stray 5:30am wide load truck on my one lane drive. So when I see those bright fog lights approaching at high speeds in my rear view mirror, I get mad-and fast. No need to rush man, we’re all going to the same place, and there is time to spare. Maybe I accelerate slower when the light finally turns green, or I make a fuller stop than normal considering there are exactly 2 cars on the road, but when he leans on his horn relentlessly until we’re parked, I can’t keep calm anymore. Let’s just say I might’ve been the serious quiet girl before, but from the looks I got after I finally had words (ok, many of them straight from the gutter) with Mr. Roadrage, I got some street cred from my fellow commuters.
The Popular Crew
It’s the captain of the football team, the prom king, and the head cheerleader all over again. Standing in their fashionable threads, huddling together under their oversized luxury brand golf umbrella, tossing their luscious hair and laughing conspicuously together every morning. I may not know them, but I know them all the same. They don’t age, they make a ton of money, and I hate them just as much as I did in high school.
Guy Who Has a Crush on You
This guy borders on sweet and creepy. I’ve always been a space cadet when it comes to acknowledging men’s interest- just ask my husband how he had to bang me over the head before I realized he like liked me. But even Helen Keller could see this guy has a thing. When I ask him if I can take the window seat next to him, he practically bounds out of his chair and sprinkles rose petals on it before I sit. I feel his gaze on me every single day before he exits the train. Of course, I smile kindly. I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. The Bertie fanclub is not that big, so I’d hate to lose a follower. It would be nice if he were younger or more handsome, but at least I feel like someone on this train has my back.
No matter where you exit the train, he will find you. He wants to split a cab to the office (even though you technically work 4 blocks away). The best part? He never pays. He doesn’t have cash. He only has big bills. His wife took his credit card. Plus, he’s always sick. Nothing like being in an enclosed space for 7-9 minutes with a giant germ. Stop this cab, I want to get out!
Guy With a Strange Routine
It’s been a long day at work, whether a desk job or something more active hands on. I see this guy from a mile away because he is always wearing a neon yellow vest and has a strange far off glance in his eyes. He’s plopped down next to me on many an afternoon and I can tell you minute by minute how this ride is gonna go. He is carrying two tall boys- either Arizona Iced Tea or beer if he’s feeling saucy. He pounds the first one before the train even pulls out of the station, and throws the can on the floor. I have surmised that he lives with his mother, who daintily goes around the house picking up after his mess. This ain’t your momma’s house Buddy, I try to tell him with my disdainful glare. But he’s not one for picking up social cues. The 2nd drink gets nursed the whole way home, and takes its rightful spot in the unoccupied middle seat, balancing precariously between us. I spend most of the ride willing the train to not stop short, so as to not have to find myself taking my purse/jacket/shoes in for a pricey cleaning. One time I built up the nerve to ask him kindly to put his drink on the floor. The icy stare I received in return sure taught me a lesson.
One of very few women on this daily ride with you. When she sits next to you on the rare afternoon, it’s like a breath of fresh air. She’s quiet, she doesn’t take up a lot of space. She might even be reading the same e-book as you, but you’ll never know because there are no book covers on Kindles. You have this- unspoken of course- kinship between you. A promise you will take to the grave. A mutual respect. We’re in this together, girl.
It may seem like I don’t like some of these people. But they’ve become my reality. People I can depend on. My strange deranged commuting family. There are many more friends to name, but I’m sure you already know them too.