It was my last day at work. I quit my new job after a week. You might think I’m crazy (and you’re probably right), but I had my reasons. And the daily commute in London was one of them. Unlike thousands of ambitious, hard-working dwellers of the vibrating metropolis, I couldn’t deal with it. It consumed me. Every minute I was forced to press my body parts against strangers added another layer to the rage building up in me. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded the extremely close human contact if I had only been surrounded by well-groomed, good-smelling, handsome guys. But how many of those you see in an average morning on a London train?
As I was walking to the station, I kept wondering whether I’d made the right decision. Knowing that I’d burned all the bridges and there was no turning back made me anxious. The crowd at the entrance of the station was massive. Everyone looked confused and stressed out, and that was before eight o’clock in the morning. I was already late (and therefore agitated) because my roommate sneaked into the bathroom before me, and I don’t want to know what she was doing in there, but I couldn’t get in for forty minutes to brush my teeth and pee.
I tried to push myself through the throng to see what was happening, and a couple of tskings and eye-rolls later, I learned that there was a signal failure (the second one within a week) and we wouldn’t be moving for at least half an hour. We were advised to look for alternative travel options. This was a thoughtful suggestion, except that the Internet didn’t work on my phone and I’d just moved to the area, so I had no clue where to go.
And I didn’t know how long it would take me to get to work on a different route. I followed the crowd and so I found out that I could take the train. I headed down the stairs and when I saw my fellow commuters fighting for a spot on the platform, I couldn’t help but think what an amazing move it was to resign and how grateful I was for not having to participate in the rush hour nightmare from the very next morning on. That put a huge smile on my face until I had to get off and change to the subway.
Hundreds of people were lining up like sardines from the train platform through the exits to the stairs that led to the even more packed metro platform. We were moving in chicken steps and I could see how everyone was trying to keep it together, but you could almost cut the tension with a knife, and I kept thinking how badly I wanted to let out my frustration in one giant scream.
I bet I wasn’t the only one thinking of that, but we are so vexingly well-behaved all the time, so no one did anything. We all just swallowed our anger and exploded inside. Some were muttering under their breath, others were staring into space; I tried to distract myself by observing the people around me.
I got lucky on my left: a suave guy was inching along next to me, almost rubbing his broad shoulders to mine. Less fortunate on my right side where a poor five-foot girl was trying to save her larger than five-foot plant from people breaking its leaves. Eyeing up the hunk gave me more pleasure, so that’s how I kept my mind occupied for the next few minutes. As I was watching how his suit strained on his biceps and how perfect his jawline was, I realized I could have used that opportunity to get into a conversation with a cute stranger. But yeah, I’m a pussy and I don’t hit on guys in public. Funny enough (or sad?) that I caught him watching me out of the corner of his eyes. So maybe he liked me too and had been thinking the same. But that we’ll never know. A few minutes later, I lost him in the crowd and my excruciating journey became a lonely fight again.
When I finally reached my destination, the usual exit was closed and we were diverted to an alternative route. After following signs for minutes, I came above ground only to realize I had no idea where I was. So I followed the herd again, and after a huge detour because of an on-going construction, I finally recognized the place. What a successful start of the day!
Waiting at traffic lights, crossing roads, another construction.
A worker was trying to signal something to me with his hands, but I couldn’t make sense of it. In the next moment, I got a decent amount of water sprinkled on my head, so I guess, his gestures were trying to prepare me for that. By that time, I was so late that I thought I might as well have a tea and popped into the Starbucks around the corner.
Needless to say, the credit card reader was broken, which I was only informed about after I happily wrapped my hand around my hot spicy Chai. You know those coins you never have when you needed them to do your laundry? This is why. I scraped together all the pennies from my pockets, rolled my eyes at the poor barista, who squirmed and said sorry three times, which made me feel like an asshole (I did behave like one), so I apologized to her and dashed off.
In front of the building, I spilled the tea on my blazer, and it didn’t even catch me by surprise that my entry card didn’t work when I tried to swipe myself into the office. I’d only been awake for two and a half hours, but I already wanted the day to be over.
But then a sense of harmony overcame me as I realized that the next day was the beginning of a new era where I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this for a long, long time. Or hopefully ever again.
What are you dreaming of?