There are different vibes on the weekend trains. Everything feels more celebratory. Chatter of children is heard, fans are donning their team's memorabilia and out of towners are counting the number of stops before they embark on a city adventure. I can identify with them because I am still nervous on new routes I haven't frequented enough.
I smell Taylor ham, egg and cheese. Let me tell you, New York City is missing out on pork roll. I asked for Taylor on my bagel at Ashby's and the cook had no idea what I was talking about, but the woman behind me let out an audible sigh that she wishes they had it too. She was a Jersey girl. I'm saying it here, Taylor Ham would change the bagel game in New York.
Devices have substantially changed the way we travel, the way we live. We have a podcast plugged in our ears, a puzzle in our hands, alerts from CNN as they happen. If not for my new found affinity for writing on the train I would enact a no phone policy and just gaze out the window or at other people even. The train is a privilege not afforded to all and I want to relish the experience.
I peek over at a young family with a sweet child, a mammoth camera and fruit smoothies all around. With the onslaught of the wellness movement is Juicy Juice no longer a thing? During my childhood, it came in a can. A half gallon sized can that you had to pierce with a bottle opener on both sides in order to pour. I really liked Juicy Juice, and the taste of Dimetapp too but that got recalled. Oops. We had fewer answers when I was a kid and we survived. Even fewer answers the years before that, and they survived too.
I've lost the look of someone who doesn't know where they are going. I helped tourists identify that the Freedom Tower and Central Park are not next to one another. I felt something like pride when that happened.
Commuting is like other hierarchies. When we are new at something, we reside in a vulnerable space. Unless we have unfaltering self confidence like Molly Brown, but even those people are vulnerable in new situations. It's human nature. Then we accumulate experience and assume the role of the senior, the veteran, the sage. If we are mindful, we retain the feeling of being the unknowing and hold on to awareness of the pain that comes with it. We treat the new person in a vulnerable position with dignity and respect. I penned a letter during a troubling time right out of college where I was quite lost in the work world. I called it "Read this when you are no longer entry level." And when someone is blubbering in the station, looking for the right platform, I'll surely help them, but only if I'm not lost myself. No guarantees.