Gotta get off, gonna get, hafta to get off from this ride
Gotta get hold, gonna get, need to get hold of my pride
When did I get, where did I, how was I caught in this game
When will I know, where will I, how will I think of my name
Theme from Valley of the Dolls
Only by sheer routine can I get myself ready for work and out the door each day. I get up the same time; I eat the same cereal; I exercise the same way and I walk the same path to the subway each and every morning. I could do it with my eyes closed. In fact, my eyes are closed.
It’s impossible for me to think on any abstract level until I am comfortably seated on the subway. If I forget my lunch or worse yet my staff ID I won’t notice until I am on that train. Only then do my eyes finally open and I can begin my morning observation and critique of the human drama sitting right in front of me. I need these extra two hours of pre-commute somnambulism for these higher level functions to work efficiently the rest of the day.
So it wasn’t until I actually sat down this morning that I noticed the man sprawled across two seats snoring loudly. LOUDLY. Really loud. I tried putting myself in “another place” by listening to k.d. lang but her soulful alto was no match for this snorer no matter how much I raised the volume. I didn’t move even though seats were available elsewhere. It would have done no good. His atonal a cappella permeated the car.
At the next stop I watched people get on. They too were dreaming until they sat down. And then it was too late. Like me, they were cemented to their seats. One woman sat down right in front of our sleeping beauty. She adjusted to his cacophony by conducting an early morning business call. The rest of us were now regaled by the crescendo counterpoints between snorer and project manager. We were privy to her government contracting in between his nostril intake.
Another commuter sat down across from me and after waking up silently mouthed “Wow, that’s really loud.” I caught her attention and replied (loudly of course): “yes, QUITE loud.” While no one, including myself, was willing to leave our comfort zone to tell either or both to pipe down (no matter how uncomfortable we were), the least we could do was commiserate. This is pro forma on these weekday rails: a nod here, a knowing look there. That’s how the rest of us communicate in the morning.
Suddenly, a man came walking down the aisle yelling “Aaron Burr was a degenerate. Aaron Burr was A DEGENERATE!” He seemed very agitated (and obviously not in his own comfort zone for quite some time).
Washington: a city exhausted and overworked. This morning only the marginalized had the guts to voice their opinion.