Hurried and Waiting

I happened to have an especially rough workday today.  I had a sit-down with the only seminormal sort in the bullpen — the one fellow in suite such-and-such who didn’t pretend that the Internet gymnastics we each perform on a daily basis are a religious rite — and I found out he was giving notice because the environment was “just too miserable.”  He cited passive-aggressive behavior, ineffective management, disinterest among the staff, and a generally tense milieu as his reasons.  I can’t say I blame him.

The train, too, had given him cause for departure.  The good old Blue line — we wise former Chicago-eastsiders know it’s not quite half as bad as its downright dangerous cousin the Red line — its sporadically underground, steamy-armpit stations like Logan Square and Belmont, the mixture of conspicuous hipster-yuppies, muted working-class types, and full-blown suits riding, together and disinterested, into the mouth of Chicago’s Loop.

We all hurry up or down ruddy CTA stairs only to wait at the edge of the motionless platform, to stumble into gaping-maw mechanized doors onto ribbed-metal and hard-plastic train cars and then to wait again, shuffled to and fro amid the human-cattle tide within the train car’s entrails.  As the inhale and exhale of inbound and outbound travelers inflates and contracts it’s all eyes downward, watching iPods, iPads, iPhones, Kindles, paperbacks, and sometimes feet.  We don’t look at each other anymore.

We ride and rush and gush out of halting trains at different points within the city proper.  The rush-hour crowd teems and bursts out of cavernous underground bunkers to hurry onto an eight- or ten-hour wait – until life and the commute begin again later that night.

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2 thoughts on “Hurried and Waiting

  1. well done. I’d like to say that the feeling of alienation we experience on our commute is caused by the alienation that we experience in the work place.

    Let me explain.

    Capitalism, a system of private property and pursuit of profit, breaks our work experience down into isolated tasks determined by those who own the tools of production. As we are told what to do we do not need to develop relationships with our co-workers in order to cooperatively accomplish anything. We are alone in our work because we do not control our work space. As we all are in the same boat (99%) we travel alone to our place of employment where we are alone.

    If we worked with others to create goods, then we could participate in a local economy, and develop relationships with the people that we interact with.

    Tell me what I’m wrong.

    • You’re certainly not wrong. You may have understated the presence of antisocial behavior during the commute, though. All interaction is person-to-device — whichever flavor that may be. That factor adds fuel to the alienation fire, I think. We become objects to each other.

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