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“Riding on the Metro”: A Screenplay of My Morning Commute (theme song by Berlin, of course)

Normally I’ve got my Discman playing when I ride the train in the morning. This morning, however, I did not – so I was able to observe two separate conversations that will make up the two acts to my screenplay: One called “Cuteness”, the other called “Annoyance.”

Act One: Cuteness

Scene: I’m standing on the inbound platform at the Porter Sqaure red-line station. An earthy/crunchy, stereotypical Cambridge couple (40-ish) stands next to me with their bundled-up little boy (perhaps 5 or 6 years old).

Earth Dad: Don’t stand too close the yellow line, Billy.

Boy: Why?

Earth Dad: Because the train will be coming soon and you can’t stand too close

Boy: Oh…why?

Earth Dad: Well, the trains can come pretty fast

(note: at this point – they’d been standing there perhaps 30 seconds)

Boy: Wow, this is the longest I’ve ever waited for anything…EVER!

Earth Mom: The train will be here soon.

Boy: Why are there 3 rails for the train?

Earth Dad: Well, that’s because….

Boy: (interrupts Earth Dad) Are the wheels at different heights? The rail is higher than the others.

Earth Dad: That’s why you stay behind the yellow line. The higher rail makes the train move.

Boy: Why?

Earth Dad: Electricity.

Boy: Oh. Can we go to the snack bar when we get on the train?

Scene Over.

Anyway, I thought that was so cute (and I usually can’t stand children). I love the idea of a snack bar on the subway, too. Sometimes, you need to think outside the box.


Act 2: Annoyance

Scene: Crowded subway car heading inbound from Porter Sqaure to Harvard Square. I’m standing with a 50-ish woman in front of me. We’ll call her Denise. Among the crowd to my left stands a 20-something female who boarded the train after me. We’ll call her Kathy.

Denise: Hey, Kathy

Kathy: Hi, Denise. How are you doing?

Denise: Ugh. I decided not to drive today because of the snow. (big sigh)

Kathy: Oh? How was it?

Denise: (HUGE, over-the-top sigh). Ugh. I took the commuter rail to Porter Square, then grabbed the subway from there.

Kathy: Was it bad.

Denise: I can’t wait until I can drive again. I nearly didn’t get off at Porter because the ride was so quick, I didn’t realize I was already there. In fact, I started falling asleep!

Kathy: Oh, really?

Denise: Yeah, Even with the snow it took much less time than when I normally drive in with good weather.

Kathy: Wow.

Denise: I know.

(Note: the train slows down to enter Harvard Square – which is the final destination for Denise, Kathy and me. Apparently, we all work for Harvard).

Denise: Oh my God. We’re here already? Wow, that was fast.

Kathy: Yeah, it’s only one stop from Porter. I take the subway everyday.

Denise: Oh, well this is enough for me. I’ll be happy when the weather clears up and I can drive again.

Scene Over.

I hate Denise. Her ride was restful enough for her to nearly fall asleep, it took less time than her normal driving commute (despite the aftermath of a blizzard), and public transit is better for the environment. Yet she still bitched and moaned about the commute even though she had nothing negative to say? I’m serious – you should have heard her overly-dramatic sighing. It’s as if she had exhausted herself (or stooped down to a lower social level) by taking public transit. Meanwhile, it took her less time than ever and she got to rest. Screw her. I hope she goes into poverty because her SUV guzzles more gas than her paultry Harvard salary can afford.



  1. Comment by jeff on January 27, 2005 12:13 pm

    Denise would have that SUV that’s smashed into a snowbank along the highway because she still doesn’t realize that while 4wd makes you go in snow, it doesn’t stop you any faster.

    I’ve had the same theatrics on the green line, especially with all the folks from the Newtown area who normally don’t take the train. They’re all flustered by the commute.

  2. Comment by Erica on January 27, 2005 12:48 pm

    Good grief. You’d think a faster commute would win, hands down.

    What on earth commuter rail goes to *Alewife* though? Maybe Denise just has a few screws loose in general.

  3. Comment by chrispy on January 27, 2005 3:23 pm

    “im afraid of americans…im afraid of the world”

  4. Comment by Karl on January 27, 2005 3:39 pm

    Chris – David Bowie?

    …but why do you say that?

  5. Comment by David in Chicago on January 27, 2005 4:37 pm

    You think “Cuteness” and “Annoyance”. I think I’d go with “Annoyance Part I” and “Annoyance Part II”.

  6. Comment by karyn on January 28, 2005 4:37 pm

    Oh lighten up, Karl! You normally can’t stand kids? That is not my general understanding of things up to this point, and it’s been a lo—-ng time. Longer than I care to think on, come to that. And Denise, while theatrical, probably just needs a new estrogen patch or nicotine patch or something else; maybe there is something larger at work in her life that is making her miserable but it is so awful she can’t give voice to it and the only way she can keep from succumbing to spontaneous implosion is to bitch about the little things, even the non-things. AND SOME PEOPLE JUST DO NOT LIKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION! ACCEPT IT! You can argue the facts but you cannot argue a feeling.

    So there. I’m sick of this goddamned snow. Liked your picture though. I’ve an 8′ fence out back, of which maybe 6″ is visible. Just shoot me. (If you need greater incentive, let me remind you I would rather chew glass in most instances than take the T. No classism involved. I just don’t like it.)

  7. Comment by Sofia on August 25, 2005 2:27 am

    Your site is realy very interesting.

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