After nearly 8 years of having a leisurely half-hour walking commute, I’m back to regularly commuting downtown. This ritual is reacquainting me with a being I’d very nearly forgotten: the cranky commuter.
I don’t mean to make too light of this state – I have certainly been a cranky commuter on more than one occasion. But there’s a certain disagreeableness one finds only amid the packed walks of a subway train.
It reminds me of all the self-important adults in The Little Prince. I commuted largely by public transit in high school, and it always amused me to watch the people in business suits frantically racing for the train. And this was in the Bay Area, so there really was another train coming soon. What could possibly be so important that it was worth that much stress?
I told myself I would never run to catch the train. No matter how important I thought my journey was, I could always wait for the next one.
Update: I have often run for the train.
And when I’m packed into sardine cars, thinking about all the things I need to do and all the places I’d rather be, it’s easy to get grumpy. And when someone gets annoyed that I accidentally bumped into them after someone accidentally bumped into me, it’s easy to get annoyed back.
But that’s where I try to catch myself. Life is hard enough, and far too short for such simple misery. All things considered, this isn’t that bad.
So when I see a cranky commuter on the train, my instinct may be to judge or get annoyed, but really – I mostly just feel bad for them. What hardships are going on in their life, I wonder, that makes this moment the last straw?