When I bought my first car, I swore I would never again take public transport. Not that I ever often did anyway, since walking is almost always a better alternative, but occasionally I did and it was enough to make me never want to do it again. And since then, I haven’t. But then silly little Amy went and moved to the city, and now has to catch more public transport than ever. Fool of a Took.
Last week I drove to work. This week, I figured it would be easier to train it in. Cheaper, more direct, slightly more efficient. Yeah, the fantasy was lovely but the reality of the situation is a lot less pleasant. First of all, there’s the people. City trains in peak travel times are absolutely packed. And I’m not just talking a couple of people standing in the aisles. I mean bodies pressed so tightly together it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. This brings with it the equally abhorrent side effect of having to contend with the combined smells of, like, a billion people; body odour and bad breath, weird perfumes and stale clothing. And the weather is still pretty cool, I dread to think how much worse it will be in summer.
Plus, I’m not familiar enough with train etiquette to feel entirely comfortable. Is it rude to hold the rail with both hands? Should I put my bag on the floor instead of over my shoulder to reduce space? Am I supposed to apologise when the lurching movement of the train inevitably knocks me against the three people closest to me? I’ve been doing my hardest to make myself as small as possible, and to not meet anyone’s eye but it sure does take a lot of work.
But it’s not just the people. Trying to navigate an unfamiliar city and new travel routes is complicated and overwhelming. Yesterday, on instruction of a Metro worker, I took a tram that took me in exactly the wrong direction. A twenty minute walk and missed train later, and I finally managed to get on the right train home. By the time I arrived, my day had gone for 12 hours. Today it was even longer. An unfortunate accident on the line that passes through my suburb meant large delays and multiple vehicle changes. From train to bus to train. Amidst the stopovers was the achingly slow wait while it poured rain and my fingers went numb from cold.
You can forgive me for thinking driving to work is the better option. There’s only me in the car, I can listen to music as loudly as I want, I know how long the drive will take and I don’t need to wait in the rain. In fact, the only downside is the money factor. When you have to pay $19 a day for parking, it’s really not that conducive to a decent savings account.
Unfortunately when one lives half an hour away from where one works, there is no way to avoid the necessary evil that is public transport. I have to hope that it either becomes more tolerable as time goes on, or I somehow manage to invent a flying carpet. In the meantime, I guess I have to make a conscious effort to keep my misanthropy in check. Wish me luck, y’all.