Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Monday, December 10, 2007


Can't Get Enough of My Train, Babe

If there is a hell, it may very well resemble my Monday morning commute. Standing on a crowded 4 train, being carried against my will to start yet another week of school, trying to listen to my iPod and read my book while stuck between a two high school geek boys arguing the finer points of World of Warcraft strategy on one side of me and a 17-year-old couple seemingly using their tongues to remove hunks of sausage from each other's molars on the other side. All my commute needed to slide down into unmitigated torture was a shit-bespattered homeless dude preaching the gospel.

And yet, I made it to work in relatively sane condition. I even got off the train with a little smile on my face. What, you may ask--but probably aren't--allowed me to escape this wretched situation unscathed?

My favorite conductor, that's what.

New-fangled subway trains in the city have an automated, pre-recorded station announcement. The voice of a trained, generic announcer comes on before and during every stop to make sure everyone knows what the hell train they're on and just where that train is going. It gets tedious, but it's better than what we had before, which was a bunch of surly conductors who resented having to speak at all, and who, when they weren't blowing off this particular duty, rushed their announcement out of their mouths like so much chimichanga vomit.

Because, I can only guess, confused idiots were constantly getting off at the wrong stop and subsequently being killed by roving bands of identically-clad, Warriors-style gangs, the switch was made to the perfectly understandable, if repetitive and dull recorded announcers.

But my favorite conductor doesn't cotton to this fancy technology. He's a rebel; a throw-back. He knows that, sometimes, the personal touch is best. So, at what he deems important stops, he turns off the automated system and switches over to manual. At these stops, he summons up his best Barry White voice and lets passengers know not just what stop is next, but what wonderful places can be found near that stop. He demands that we all have a good day.

At my stop, Burnside Avenue, he gives all of this information, then pauses for a moment before coming back on and saying, one more time and just for show, "Bu-u-u-rnside." I don't know exactly why he does this, but goddamn, am I glad he does.

So, Mr. 4 Train Conductor, wherever you are, I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for making what would otherwise be a shitty ride to someplace I don't want to be not just bearable, but fun.