Mama Says Om: Train


I love words with multiple meanings. When I read the theme of mama says om was train I immediately thought of the choo choo type and then went to the idea of being trained or training.

For awhile when I was 19 or so I worked in the city. I would drive to the train station each day. If I wanted to catch my train, I had to be there by 6:23a.m. In those days I was free to schedule my morning around minutes not half hours as I do now.
At 19 I was a newbie in the corporate world and in reality I was only a visitor. I would watch and listen to the veterans of the corporate cattle call. I had to be trained to ride the train. I remember my dad giving me a few tips before my first trip down, "don't get there to late, stand at the front of the station so you are on the first car and can get off first". I did as he said, trying to blend into the mash of first car riders. I don't think my hippie skirts and birkenstocks ever really blended into the crowd.
I would pull into an open spot, walk quickly to the station, order up a Coke from the cafeteria on wheels and join the other riders of the train. Small talk would ensue between the regulars, I would pop open my Coke and watch and listen and learn. First you would hear the ding, ding, ding of the train and then the mass would move closer and closer together, each person being careful not to cross that invisible line of comfort with the person next to them. The train would blow by and then screech to a halt. Pssst, the doors would open and the mass would move as one, patiently, quietly onto the train. There were the uptop riders that sat alone in their seats, sipping coffee and dreading the day ahead. There were the four packs that sat together each day, playing cards or just shooting the breeze. These were the most entertaining groups and I remember how amazing it was that these people formed a relationship with only their train schedule in common.
Most of the riders sat alone, taking whatever seat was available. Maybe they knew one or two people and said hello or asked about the kids. These riders seemed to give you a glimpse into what grown-up life was really like. Enjoy the hour or so that you have to yourself, rush to your job, rush back home to your family. Many people read books: romance, history, mysteries, I myself was on a Tom Robbins kick at the time. Some people knitted or did their cross stitch and a few worked on reports. Most of the people read the paper or slept.
There seemed to be all these rules that everyone followed, fold your paper so as not to crowd your neighbor, keep your briefcase between your legs, avoid smelly foods and please keep your voice down. I love people watching and I am quite the little rule follower so I was the perfect trainee for this unwritten set of train etiquette. I learned to stand and wait in line before the train made it to the station. I would follow the mass off the train, lighting a cigarette as I made it through the doors, up the escalator and down the road. This ensured that I would make it to work by 7:18, just enough time to get my gold jacket and be on the floor.
In the afternoon I would turn around and do the exact same trip only the rules would be relaxed as the regulars had an after work beer or snooze and students and old ladies in town for a shopping trip joined the train car. I myself always slept on the way home (I only missed my stop twice).
Once in awhile when Annie asks me to ride the train I think about my other life as a train rider. It's like a little present I hold for my girls and will one day give them. As they grow they will think they know everything there is to know about mommy and I will have all these little pieces of me tucked away that I can pull out and share with them. One day maybe Annie or Madison will land a big job in the city and become a corporate commuter and I will be able to tell them to stand near the people at the front of the train so you can get 3 extra minutes of sleep each morning.


AscenderRisesAbove said...

"training to ride the train" what a perfect way to put it. I remember getting lost on the wrong bus route and trying not to panic; knowing eventually I would get back on the correct route.... though I have never been able to fall asleep on the bus or train!!

Shelley said...

I slept past my stop once in NJ, and it was the end of the line, so I woke up in the train yard surrounded by signs assuring me that if I touched anything I would be treated to a speedy death by megavolts.

Thank goodness the conductor was a relative newbie who was still following the book and walked all the way back through the train at the end of his shift, finding and rescuing me.

This brought back some interesting memories; thank you!