I ride the train to work most mornings. Not because I am particularly green or anything, although I am somewhat, but because I do not like to drive. On a traffic free day, my commute is about 35 minutes driving. On a normal day, it is around 45-50 minutes. On a bad day, 90. In my mind, that is a lot of time spent staring at the road doing nothing useful. Sure, I listen to NPR, but I'm just sitting. And I don't just sit very well. I like to be doing. Sadly, the highway patrol frowns on knitting while driving. And so, I ride the train. The lovely Utah Transit Authority recently revamped the schedule of the train that I take, adding more trains and adding an extra car to said trains (thank goodness) and so I gave up my usual spot on the last car and exchanged it for one on the first car. My reason for the change is simple. Not very many people ride the first car, and fewer people is fine by me. I am not one of those travelers who likes to converse with a seatmate.
The other rail cars on the train are new, with that chemical new car type smell. They have new blue fabric seats, clean white paint, chrome and grey plastic. All shiny and new. The added car? Not so much. It was built in the early 70's and they didn't upgrade it or change it. Maybe UTA just ran out of money, maybe they just thought it was retro cool. And, it is. It's my favorite car. There is so much more personality in it than in the sterile, industrial feel of the new cars. Brown vinyl seats, industrial tile floor, luggage racks, heavy sliding door (that will totally take you out if you aren't watching), the works.
And, it has that smell...not a bad one...of must, and age, and people and time and energy. There's a vibe in that rail car that doesn't exist in the shiny new double decker cars.
I sit on my brown vinyl bench seat alone, next the window and things are different. No longer am I just a commuter in the rush to the daily drudge. No, I'm a traveler, on my way to somewhere exciting. Perhaps off on a cross country adventure. Perhaps off to see long missed family members, or to meet a lost lover.
As I watch the scenery whip by, with the houses and cars just a short distance away, I imagine what it would be like to be whisked off on a long distance rail journey and wonder who or what would be waiting for me at the end of the line. Will I end in a lonely hotel while I look for a job? Will I find friends and family waiting for me? Or will I step off the train into the arms of the eager lover?
And so, I sit back, and I enjoy the feeling and the journey, which ends all too soon at my station and my job.