Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The TTIV Year In Review

Who doesn't love a "Year in Review" column? Many publications do them this time of year, because it's cheap and easy. The stuff's already been written. You can shut your brain off, look through the stuff you've already done, and recycle it. TTIV is no different. 

In this post, we'll explore some commuting highlights as we say goodbye to 2014.

1. Suspicious packages are not a joke. Let's start off with a serious one. The brave men and women of the NYC Police and Fire Departments go in when everyone else goes out, and for that they have my gratitude. It takes a certain breed to do this kind of work.

2. Protect the coffee. It's the little things that matter on the commute. The little thing that matters most to me is my coffee on the morning train. One day, my coffee stood on the floor by my foot for a moment. A man kicked the coffee over. It spilled. My ride was ruined. He apologized, but let's face it. The walking evil don't mean it when they say they're sorry.

3. The quiet car doesn't exist. It's a desert mirage. A garbled announcement about the west car being the quiet car doesn't make it a quiet car. It requires signage, regular announcements, and conductor policing. None of those things happen. The "quiet car" is loaded with ironies, and one day I wrote about several. Headphones are your only hope to drown out conversations about the virtues of metal rakes vs. wooden rakes. Speaking of headphones...

4. Headphones are a double-edged sword. The woman on the phone in the next row talking about her recent nail polish tragedy can be effectively drowned away with a Duane Allman solo. However, when there is an announcement, or more importantly, a blog-worthy event takes place, you may miss it. It happened to me, and it will likely happen again.

5. The hunter becomes the hunted. On more than one occasion, I've been the blog material. For example, my keyboard tapping has irritated nearby commuters, and my kids have drawn attention simply by being kids. To those I've irritated, my heartfelt apologies.

6. Newspapers have pretty low publishing standards. Newsday and amNewYork, two New York newspapers with extensive circulation, published two of my commuting stories. One was a happy holiday story and one created unexpected controversy. I am grateful to them for helping to spread the word about my musings, but it makes me question their standards. As Groucho Marx once said, " I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." 

For no related reason, here's another Groucho Marx quote that makes me laugh: "Here's to our wives and girlfriends... may they never meet."

7. My mind creates weird stuff during idle time. Coming up with things like Platform Roulette and scenarios around how unbroken light bulbs landed on the tracks are the result of my mind running during the platform wait. These kinds of thoughts build up in my head, creating cranial pressure. Fortunately for me, I can let it out in the blog.

8. Avoid lunatics at all costs. I told several stories in 2014 about dealing with unstable people. I'm sure I will deal with more in 2015. Stay away. Some are unreasonable, but others are dangerous. I've unfortunately dealt with both.

9. The rail workers strike was averted. Although I'm happy the workers didn't strike, I admit a little sadness. A strike would have created a commuting disaster, yielding much blog material.

10. The morning grind has many precise targets. You could call the steps "legs," including getting ready, driving to the station, walking to the platform, getting a seat, taking the subway, and finally, walking to the office. I think, though, it is better to see them as "tentacles." Yes, "tentacles" on a hideous ocean creature. Unfortunately, each of those tentacles has numerous suction cups, slowing me from hitting my targets.

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank readers for the guest posts. Commuting is a lot more tolerable, and dare I say, enjoyable, when we share war stories.

Best to all for 2015.

Happy and safe commuting, and may you encounter uncommon sense.
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Twitter: @davidrtrainguy
email: thetrain.invain.829@gmail.com
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  1. Any article that quotes Groucho automatically earns a 4 star rating from me. Looking forward to more TTIV in 2015.

    1. Ha! I figured you of all people would like that. Happy new year, Sartoris.

  2. I read the comments on the essay about fare theft. Wow, some people are far too willing to overlook the obvious attempt to ride free. If someone who is not entitled to a free ride, steals a ride for free it means that paying riders are subsidizing their theft. I was surprised by the number of people who defended this clown's actions. I think that many people online just like to take an opposing view. If you wrote an essay expounding on the virtues of fare theft the very people defending the fare thief in your original essay would suddenly be demanding the thief be thrown off the moving train.

    1. The comments completely stunned me. I can understand a perspective on having compassion, but this guy was deliberate and was not destitute or in need, judging by his appearance. In any case, I was pleased to get a reaction, all feedback is good feedback.