I was so engrossed in my book I hadn’t bothered to look up, nor did I notice that I was standing on the train platform for a long time. I finally looked up and was shocked and just how crowded it got. While reading, I saw with my peripheral vision a foot here or the corner of a bag there, but didn’t take any notice as I was hypnotized by Nick Hornsby’s engaging prose. What got me to stop reading was a rather posh-looking lady cursing, “Fuck – where’s the goddam train?”
I was so appalled at her language that I had to see who would have such a filthy mouth and then I saw that there was barely any room left on the platform and people were starting to shift uncomfortably in their tiny “personal” spaces. I stole a quick glance at the time on my pink iPod and saw that it was ten to nine, when I was supposed to be at work at 8.30. I couldn’t believe I was standing there for close to an hour and didn’t notice it.
I made my way through the throng like a crowd surfer and emerged from the bowels of Chicago onto Division and searched for a cab, which for a Tuesday morning during rush hour, you’d have an easier time of hunting down a unicorn. I have this trick where I start walking opposite of where I’m going because I work downtown so I know that all the south-bound cabs are going to be taken. Usually this works as the few northbound cabs that manage to drive up the street won’t have fares, but today because of the crazy delay with the train and the soggy weather, I was having trouble getting anything. I then tried dashing into a side street and was almost run over on Oak by a cab with its light on, which delighted me to no end – well, I until I remembered how late I was for work.
On my way to work, I fantasized about working from home. I thought about not having to get dressed and not having to worry about squeezing into a tin can with steamy windows and sweaty people. I gazed out the window and watched people strolling slowly back into their high rises, obviously not dressed for work, holding a paper and maybe a Starbucks coffee. I looked at them in envy as they wound unhurriedly to their homes, popping in casually to Dunkin’ Donuts or 7-11, not having to worry about punching a time clock.
I know people say “the grass is always greener” and I get it – no one’s life is ideal and no one’s life is easy, but at the same time, I do like to indulge in a little self-pity, especially when I have to pay a $12 cab ride because the CTA couldn’t get its shit together and get me to work on time.
The night before, I bid my mother farewell as she embarked on a two-week trip around Europe. I asked her where she was specifically going, and she breezily told me she wasn’t sure. “Oh, maybe the French Riviera or Pompeii. Maybe I’ll just stay in Paris. I’ll see how things are.” If only we all were faced with these kinds of choices – the most interesting choice I had to make was: should I get a chocolate-covered cruller or the glazed? In the end, I got both.
So, I dashed to work, late, dripping wet because the cab driver was a bit confused and didn’t drop me off in front of my job. The dash to the building wasn’t quick enough for me to avoid coming in looking like I jumped in a pool, fully clothed. It was then that I regretted wearing a leather coat over cashmere because on top of being soaked, I also smelled like a stray dog.
Because I work in a busy inner-city college, I have to share my building with students. Lots of them. The school I work at has a performing arts department, so at any given time, the hallways turn into Fame and you get impromptu concerts. This morning, drenched and kind of pissed at our city’s inept public transportation system, I was in no mood to hear an acapella version of Britney Spear’s “Womanizer” that a trio of gay boys were singing and walked up to the 12th floor where I work.
I should mention, I’m on Weight Watchers, and the way to gain more points (so that I can eat two donuts in the morning) is to be more active. Hence, walking up twelve flights of stairs. The first six were okay, but after that, I started to “feel the burn” and before I knew it, I was rasping out my breath in a rattle and resorting to climbing up the stairs on all-fours like a well-dressed dog.
I got to the office, staggered to my desk, ready to start my day. As I peeled off layers of odorous clothing, I thought to myself more and more “Maybe I should’ve stayed home.”