As you descend the escalators in a zombie-like stupor, you realize that you could make this trek with your eyes closed. Perhaps you’re sleeping now.
The crush of commuters wasn’t this bad in your dreams. In reality, the metro is insufferable between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m., lunchtime, and after work. Your heart drops every time a packed car slides into view. It’s a frenzied sprint to the cars when the train whistles through. As the doors open there’s little regard to who’s been waiting on the platform the longest, where high heels land, or in which direction pointy umbrellas are slung. Dirty looks are thrown like punches. The metro is a daily reminder of “l have elbows, too.”
And that’s just the prelude to getting on the train. Once inside, you’re smashed like sardines between an inevitably wheezy neighbor and a businessperson whose briefcase rivals a Ryanair carry-on. You try not to breathe in too deeply because, of course, the fuzzy head bobbing against your nostrils belongs to a chain smoker.
Coming back from work is easier, and you manage to grab a seat. This good luck is compensation for working at the end of the line–in formal terms, the “boonies” of the city. After all those times flattened against a door with a bazillion neighbors, there is a perverse sense of satisfaction in settling in for the long haul.
A few stops later, a new rider plants herself mid-cabin, her fists curling around the ceiling bars and her hips spread as wide apart as any yoga pose. Her body forms an X across the space you currently inhabit, signaling to other passengers that THIS THRONE IS RIGHTFULLY MINE BY SUCCESSION. You allow yourself a smug smile knowing that you’re not getting off for a good half hour. If you really want to rub it in, you’ll pull out a novel and thumb through the pages. The woman’s eyes narrow to slits as she watches you, ready to pounce at the first sign of movement.
Then, an elderly couple gets on and you give up your now-warm seat, suddenly selfless and eager to stretch your legs. (You 1, Seat Snatcher 0!!!!) You’re switching lines in two stops, anyway, and the madness will start again.