Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fiber Man

I'm on the 6:42 peaker, front car, which means i got here at the last minute and grabbed whatever seat was available. Then, right before the doors close and we head out on our merry way, in walks Fiber Man and sits right across from me. I've seen Fiber Man before, and I know his deal. He's got an eating ritual, which is to say that he catches the same train home every night, sits in the same effing seat and eats the same very healthy ass meal which goes a little something like this...

Small tupperware container of black prunes (or maybe dates, its hard to tell)
Small tupperware container of what appears to be wheat germ or bulgar or one of those finely ground fiber based things that heart doctors are always telling you to eat but you cant stand the effing taste so you never eat it.
Small tupperware container of granola.
Large thermos of green tea.

Now I don't know about you, but if I just pounded all that fiber and then followed it up with a green tea caffeine chaser, well then yes, I'd be on my way to the head to drop a deuce. But not Fiber Man. Fiber man has super powers beyond those of mere mortals. Fiber Man and his effing wood stove of a stomach just pound all that fiber into a little rock hard ball that burns slowly and efficiently in his gut like a chunk of West Virginia coal while he relaxes with the book he recently borrowed from the Greenburgh Public Library.

And also, who eats like that? Like how plane crash survivors ration food until they have to start nibbling each others toes for protein. "Dammit, Bob, you've had your tupperware bulgar for the day! Move on to the granola man!"

I decided a long time ago that I didn't like Fiber Man. I don't like people who live life like its an effing spread sheet, where everything fits neatly into its predetermined slot. Never late, 20 minutes of excerise a day, rolls his change, tips exactly 15%. The kind of guy who is never surprised by life, takes no chances and draws inside the lines. Fair or not, without ever even speaking to the guy, I just don't like him.

And then I see it.
Peeking out from a slightly open outside pocket of his hyper-organized computer bag...
The Tucks Takealong. Thats right, the very asswipe that I myself carry and have written about in these very pages. The worlds greatest asswipe.

Fiber Man isnt a super hero. He's not a robot. He's human just like you and me (well at least me). And I know where Fiber Man is going. I know he doesn't pack that wipe just for show. He means to use it. And I also know that on some level, Fiber Man and I aren't so different really. Sure, he eats like a lab rat from premeasured plastic containers, but he also knows how to take care of business and he takes his hygene seriously. Amen brother

He is Fiber Man, and in some small a way, I am Fiber Man too.

Climate Talks

Welcome to day one of the Metro North climate talks. In honor of the climate conference going on in Copenhagen, i thought it was high time to address some of the climate issues we have right here at home, specifically on the Harlem Line of the Metro North train station. First on the list is the overpowering stench of urine that has become the hallmark of many a commute. I know we brought this up at last years conference which took place at the Golden's Bridge train station and was attended by myself and my friend Tripp who regularly sits next to me, but the problem persists, especially on the older cars. I believe this year we've come up with a solution. It seems that there is a room on some train cars where people pee. Metro north officials have confirmed that this room is known within the transit department as "the bathroom". Now that we know where the problem is centered, we have also come up with a two phase plan. Phase one, flush the goddamn toilet. Phase two, close the goddamn door.

I want to thank everyone for making time in their busy schedules to attend this years conference. This concludes today's agenda. Please check your mimeographed handouts for a list of tomorrow's discussion topics. I believe we are scheduled to begin at 9:00 am sharp with a discussion of a-holes who think its funny to fart in sealed environment.

Good day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stix to go


A few months or three ago I popped into the coffee shop at the station, poured myself a small hazelnut, stuck on a travel lid and took it to the counter to pay. As I placed the cup on the counter, the lovely and talented Roseanne stuck a little green plastic doohickie into the sipping slot of the lid. "Why are you touching my coffee, Roseanne?" I asked. "Its a coffee stopper so you don't spill on your ride" she said. How thoughtful, I thought. I was intrigued...

Turns out it has a name, this little green thingy, and its name is "Stix to go". Obviously, some guy or gal who had spilled his or her coffee for the umpteenth time, and who also had access to an injection molding plastics facility, decided enough was enough. It was time to plug up the hole and save commuting coffee drinkers the world over. Besides, there really isnt enough excess plastic in the world's landfills, so, why not!

I've come to really enjoy the Stix to go stopper on many levels, but I'd be remiss if I didn't explain one reason in particular. Now, what I'm about to say may not come out right, and you may very well think less of me for saying it, but here goes. It's a very satisfying tactile experience for me, and I suspect for other men in general, to stick something into a hole and have it click into place. There. I said it and I'm not taking it back. In fact, its so satisfying, that I tend to do it over and over again as I ride the rhythms of the rails. So is that so bad? Really? I mean, I have to ride the effing train every day for two hours, if a little piece of plastic can bring some joy into my otherwise soul sucking commute, dont I deserve it? Yes, I do. Plus, it makes a little clicky sound every time you do it. I like things that make clicky sounds. I bet you do too.

Oddly enough, in my 12 years of commuting, I've never spilled a beverage of any kind, so I cant honestly say it works because I'm not a big enough idiot that I put my coffee on the seat, where it just might ruin someones ride. I keep it on the ground where it belongs, but it is nice to know that, if an unexpected leakage does occur, I have protection.

Have a nice day.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7th, 1993

There are a two days every year that I take some time on my train ride and think about the big picture. I think about how fragile life is and how in an instant it can all change. One of those days is September 11th. I first became aware of the events taking place while I was on the train and people's cell phones began ringing. It was strange, like a scene from a movie. First one, then another, then 5, then 10, all ringing with news that something was happening at the World Trade center. I remember sitting on the train and overhearing that a small plane had hit the tower. I guess I'd learn more once I got into the office, I thought. Almost always, on September 11th, I'm on a train at the two times that the planes hit, 8:46 am and 9:03 am, and I always stop and close my eyes and pause to remember.

Today is the other day that I stop and remember. On December 7th, 1993, a man who had no business being on a rush hour train home to Long Island, and a man who certainly had no business possessing a gun, waited about a half hour after the train had departed Penn Station and then, in a ruthless, emotionless and calculated manner, got up and started firing into the seats. Six New Yorkers were killed and 19 were injured on a train ride home. Commuters who were probably doing the same things that I see commuters do every day. Reading newspapers, books, magazines, sleeping, answering email, deleting email, listening to music, making to-do lists, talking on the phone, texting, browsing, meditating, snoring. Commuting. And then, in the short time it takes a train to travel from one station to the next, it all stopped, and the lives of those men and women and their families we're never the same. It made no effing sense whatsoever, and yet, it happened.

So on this day every year, I look around the train at the same people that usually make me so miserable on a daily basis, the loud cell phone users and the shopping trophy wives with their seat hogging Bloomie's bags and the self righteous teens with their feet up and the people eating smelly food and spilling drinks, and I say whatever. Today is not the day. Today is the day that we are all one family in this rumbling tin can we call home for two hours every day. Because no matter how mind numbing and boring a daily commute is, no matter how much you may hate that person sitting across from you, every now and then the normalcy of life, and the routine of arriving home safely at the end of another day, is a gift.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Field Guide to Commuters

The blog is catching on my friends. I recently got asked to write a "fun" column about commuting for Westchester magazine, which is good news for me and my ambitions to retire on the profits of my commuting demise. Unfortunately, its bad news for you, my loyal readers, because it means I spent this week writing for them instead of you. So in lieu of my regular bitch-fest, I'm simply going to post the article here. It's not as bitingly sarcastic and profanity laced as my usual column, and I left out any juicy personal details about hygene and scatological habits, but it has its moments. What can I say. When you whore yourself out to the mainstream media establishment, you just can't talk about poop. That said, I promise to be back to my abnormal self next week. Oh, and why am I wearing a UPS baseball hat? Because it was on the effing free table at work, OK. Happy Thanksgiving!

John's Field Guide to Metro North Commuters

by John Korpics

I ride the train a lot. Two hours a day, 5 days a week for the last 12 years (and counting). So in the interest of science, and as a way to pass all that time, I have compiled this handy guide to a wide variety of commuter species. The next time you ride the train, take this along and see how many you can spot...

Schoolcutticus juvenalius
A high school student who cuts school to go into the city with their buddies, usually for a Yankees day game, a Yankees parade, a Yankees pep rally, or St. Patrick's Day, all of which involve underage drinking. These riders are not hard to spot. They wear authentic team jerseys and Uggs, nervously pool their spare change in order to pay the extra peak rate tickets that they didn't buy, and then spend the entire trip talking about which direction is best to walk when they leave Grand Central station.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Pimples

Americangirlicus parentus
A parent with a daughter who is carrying a doll dressed just like her, both of whom have hair appointments, followed by a reservation for high tea and a musical variety show, all at the American Girl store. There are so many things wrong with that sentence that I can't begin to list them. Seen mostly on elementary school staff development days.
Distinguishing Characteristics: A profound look of disbelief that says "is this really what my life has become"?

Cellphonica obnoxious
A person who's need to make small talk on the phone super-cedes your need for sanity. I was looking through some old drawings of medieval torture techniques the other day (like you've never done that) and I came across one that was particularly disturbing. It showed a man whose arms and legs had been pulled off by horses, his eyes had been gouged out, and someone was laughing while pouring hot liquid into his disemboweled stomach. Now imagine the guy laughing and pouring the liquid is me, and that one of the severed arms is holding a cell phone...
Distinguishing Characteristics: Look carefully for the numbers 666 somewhere just beneath the hairline.
Warning: This rider can be dangerous if antagonized with a sarcastic comment (trust me).
Overheard phrases can include: "Nothing, what are you doing?" and "I am so bored".

Fosters twofisticus
A commuter who boards the evening train with two (yes two) 22 ounce, motor oil sized cans of Foster's beer. 44 ounces of beer of beer for a 45 minute train ride. If he drinks an ounce a minute, he still has an extra minute to pee! Subject has also been observed spilling various snack foods on his lap and not caring. Have you ever seen that scene in North by Northwest where Cary Grant orders a Gibson in the dining car of the train and then charms the pants off of Eva Marie Saint? This is the complete opposite of that.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Untied tie, un-tucked shirt, sits near the bathroom.

Newspaperus scavengerus
The person who climbs into the metal trash bins on the Grand Central terminal platforms to get a free discarded newspaper. That's right, he's sticking it to all the fat cats at the New York Times who are drunk on newspaper profits! The M.T.A. trash police have mounted an 18 inch high metal barrier atop the bins to deter this behavior, kind of like how campsites try to keep bears from getting into dumpsters, but he is tenacious and can usually mount the bin and reach in for his prize. Bravo sir. If someone is willing to go to this much trouble to save $1.50, I'm afraid the newspaper industry really is doomed.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Long arms, no sense of shame.

Twoseated booby
A person who spreads their stuff out over two seats, and then pretends to be asleep when new riders get on.

Snoring droolapotomus

He sleeps. He snores. He drools. Hat trick!

Checkered flagosaurus

A person so terrified of having to wait in line, that he is always the first person out the train door, into his car and out of the parking lot, thereby shaving precious seconds off the end of his commute while also (bonus points!) risking countless lives as he speeds through the parking lot.

Marthastewart wannabeetles
A person who knits, crochets, sews or does some other generally crafty thing on the train. Look for the tell tale L.L.Bean canvas bag full of crap.

Please feel free to respond to the blog with your own additions. When we get to a hundred I'll make up an official list and post it. Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Welcome back!

Judging from the many angry and threatening emails and facebook postings I've received over the last two weeks, I've come to realize some things. The first is that some of you just need to effing relax. Im not a blogging robot. A blogbot. I do it when I can, and when I cant, well, I just can't. The second thing I realized is that, like it or not, I seem to have become a small part of many people's daily routines, like a cup of coffee or blowing your nose in the shower. Just a little something you rely on to make your dark day just a little bit brighter. So when I stopped writing for a few weeks, I guess it was kind of a dick move and for that, I apologize. And because I love you all so damn much, my apology takes the form of a cute dog picture (see above). This is something you see now and then on the train and no matter how effed up life is, you just have to smile. And, as a bonus, I give you the passed out commuter in the seat behind pulling a dick move and taking up two seats. Your welcome. I promise that whenever I see a cute dog tucked into a purse or a jacket or a little dog carrier, I will take a picture and pass it on to you, my loyal readers. So there you go. Have a cute dog.
Also... NEW POLICY. If I plan to take a little time away from the blog, you will be duly notified by some sort of official announcement. Something like, "I'm taking next week off. Read a book. Love, John".

Moving on...
So if you're interested, I was away in cold and dreary Scandanavia last week talking to lots of black turtleneck wearing Danes and Norwegian's about graphic design and other such things. I did notice some commuting oddities while I was away, which I will share with you here. First, In Copenhagen, everyone rides a bike to work, which I found inspiring at first, especially when I imagined that, with a little gumption, imagination and some municipal cash, this could be New York. Why not? We could build bike lanes, follow the rules of the road, accept the bicycle culture in general , get the cars off the road and live happily ever after with unicorns and rainbows and windmills and danish chocolate, just like they do here. New York could become the Schwinndy City! And then I actually rented one of those bikes and drove around Copenhagen for a while, and I realized that, first, I could never do this in a suit, which is something I wear more often than not, second, I live about 55 miles from my office, so, well, eff that, and finally, the part I enjoyed the most actually, the bikers over there behave just as badly as drivers over here. They cut eachother off, they ding their cute little danish bells when they're angry, they tailgate, run red lights, and once in a while they smash into eachother and curse in Danish which is effing awesome. So for whatever its worth, a pissed off commuter is a global certainty, whether he's blocking the box with his Denali or running up someones ass with his Trek. And frankly, I like my bike, but I love my Lexus.

The other thing I noticed is that nobody wears ties. I was there for a week, in Oslo and Copenhagen and I don't think I ever saw a tie. I guess we have our business uniform and they have theirs, and I'm not judging or anything, but I'm also not sure how I'd feel living in a land where everyone dressed like Steve Jobs.

Finally, I just thought everyone would like to know that I'm gaining weight. I'm not an idiot. I'm sure you tolerate my blog entries when I try and wax poetic or make some social commentary, but you mostly enjoy it when life is kicking my ass, so this is for you folks who love it when I suffer. Some combination of less sunlight, a love of pretzels, and my large purchase of Toblerone and Gummi products at the Copenhagen Airport Duty Free, has added about 15 pounds to my delicate frame over the past 3 or 4 weeks. So if you see me on the train and I'm wearing the truly lame jean/suit jacket combo, its not because I think It looks young and hip, it's because the suit pants that go with that jacket don't fit right now, so there. Yet another gift for you my readers. A cute puppy and my fat ass. I guess Christmas came early this year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jean Genie

I wear a suit most days, and a tie some. Its not really a preference, more of a tool. In the course of a normal day I may have 5 or 6 meetings, sometimes with my boss, sometimes with my boss's boss, sometimes with vendors or ad execs, and sometimes with my staff. All of the big shots tend to wear suits, so I play that game. All of the little shots wear whatever they effing want, but when I have to be a boss (which sometimes means being a dick), I respect them enough to dress like one (a boss, not a dick).

Also, when you boil it all down, I am a commodity, like a racehorse or a car or a watch. I'm a commodity that somebody spent a decent amount of money on, and when somebody spends a decent amount of money on something, and they have to look at it every day, they usually want to feel good about their investment. Sure, my car runs well, and the blinkers work, but I also want it to look good when I toss the keys to the valet. So for all of these reasons, I wear a suit.

Now on an average commute, I'd say about a quarter of the people on the train are wearing suits. If you're on an early peaker, the ratio goes up to maybe half. So I see alot of effing suits. Old, new, cheap, expensive, too tight, too long, ill-fitted, bad-ass, pin-striped, peak lapeled, glen plaid, three button, two button, unbuttoned, missing buttons, out of style, overstyled, had it since college, should only be worn to a funeral, brown, blue, black, searsucker, cotton, wool, chino, Prada (for the younguns), Polo (for the grownups), Brooks Brothers (for the lemmings). You name it, I've seen it. But there is one suit that I rarely see. A suit so unique that I sometimes go months or even years without a sighting, and then, when I've almost completely forgotten about its existence, I catch a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye as I ascend up the stairs and out of the station. There it is, in all it's denim magnificence. The Jean Suit.

A dude in a Jean Suit is a dude who is saying eff you to the suits of the world. I will not be a slave to your fashion laws, your shackles of style. I will go my own way. The way of the Levi. The way of the Wrangler. A dude in a Jean Suit lives life as a free man. He wakes up and says "today, I will wear my jeans, because they are comfortable and I enjoy them", and then, without even the slightest hesitation, he says "and I will also wear my denim jacket, because, it too, is comfortable". And then finally, just because he knows he can, he throws a metrosexual leather satchel over his shoulder and strides confidently out the door. Point, set and match.

Walk on Jean Suit man. Walk on

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Things I Carry

An homage to Tim O'Brien (the writer, not the illustrator, although I am a fan of both).
Sidebar: I once met Tim O'Brien (the writer) at a book party and he was quite drunk and hit on my wife. I like to call that a twofer, two great things happening at once, meeting a well known person who happens to be falling down drunk, and, having him flirt with your wife. Anyway, that's a story for a later time...

All hard core commuters carry some sort of bag that doubles as a briefcase / first aid kit / bookbag / life support system. Mine happens to be a 10 year old black Tumi computer bag with a non matching gym bag strap that I added a few months ago when the original strap couldn't take it anymore. It's a nondescript, shabby yet functional bag. If a thousand commuters all went to lunch together, and we all checked our bags before we sat down, I would have a very hard time telling the coat check person which one was mine, and then I'd have to tip more because of how long he would look. What a man or woman carries every day in their bag is the product of a well worked equation, balancing necessity and comfort, need and speed. And of course weight. It almost always comes down to weight. How much of a burden are you willing to bear everyday as you stare into the abyss? Here's mine...

• 15" MacBook Pro Laptop. By far the heaviest thing in the bag, but also the most essential, for without this, there would be no blog. Your welcome.
• ATT Wireless USB card. Costs me about $60 a month. I am presently trying to pressure my employer to give me a company laptop card, so that I may negate my contract on this device. I'll keep you posted.
•Keys. Pared down to the bare minimum to help keep weight and clutter down. The ring has a house key, a car key, and an office key. It also has a pink plastic laniard ribbon made by my daughter in camp two years ago. Worth the extra weight. The keys are hooked onto a plastic key clamp sewn into the Tumi. Whenever I look in the bag and the keys aren't on the hook, I panic. Lost keys means having to call the wife from the station and get her to bring me the spare set at 7:45pm on a weeknight. Never lose the keys my friend.
• Iphone USB power chord with detachable wall plug.
• Mophie battery skin for the iPhone. Because my iPhone battery lasts about two hours if I don't play the skeeball app (which I do enjoy). I also need the extra battery power so I can listen to a whole baseball game on my MLB app, which sucks up iPhone juice faster than a toddler on a teat.
• V-Moda Earbuds (with extra pads). You get about 6 sets of extra silicone ear bud pads with the V-Moda's, and for some reason I carry them all. They come in different sizes, so you can match your particular earhole with a particular bud size. Whatever, they dont weigh much, so I bring em.
SHAMELESS PROMOTIONAL MOMENT: I had an old pair of V-Moda's that broke. Out of warranty, no receipt. I sent them to V-Moda and they fixed them and mailed them back at no cost. I am a customer for life.
•Glasses. I wear a pair of glasses every day, and I bring a spare pair in case something happens to my first pair, and then I have my fancy new Maui Jim prescription sunglasses, so yes, I carry three pairs of glasses. This might be an area where I could trim down. Maybe contacts...
• Maps and Schedules. I carry those plastic laminated streetwise manhattan and transitwise manhattan maps, as well as a train schedule. All of these things have been replaced by apps on my phone, but I carry them anyway, I guess in case there's some sort of of nuclear attack and all the technology goes down and I really need to catch a subway.
•Phones. Yep, plural. I have an iPhone 3G and a new company blackberry. I think this is mostly psychological, but I try not to mix any business technology with personal tech. Trust no one. In a month or so, I will also have a company laptop, which means I have to carry two laptops or chose one to leave at home. Or hire a sherpa.
• Pens. 3 pilot G-2 o5's and a sharpie, always black, cuz im a newyahker.
•Medical Supplies. I have a Provental inhaler for asthma, and 3 Zyrtec's for allergies. I carried bandaids for about 10 years, but everytime I cut myself, I was always in a place where they already had bandaids, so...
• Yellow AMPAD Gold Fiber Quadrille letter sized pad. The best note pad ever. I think they use them on the space shuttle.
•Business Cards. A set for my new job and a set for my personal business (just in case).
•Personal Hygene. A small box of toothpicks, cuz I have some annoying gaps in my teeth that I need to clean out now and then, a packet of those listerine breath strips, a pack of trident bubblegum flavored gum, and seven individual Tucks Take-Along "Medicated Wipes". I highly recommend that last item for anyone who lives an "on-the-go" lifestyle and also happens to hold personal cleanliness in high regard. Without going into too much detail, it wouldn't be overstating it to say that the Tucks Take-Along has saved my ass more than once, literally and figuratively (badump bump).

Thats it. There are many things I've stopped carrying over the years. Books, newspapers, umbrellas, aspirin, food, drinks. All mostly because I don't like the extra weight. I like to think of myself as a lean mean commuting machine. Ready to sprint across town without being weighed down by thoughtful or inspiring reading material. The whole shooting match weighs about 8 pounds, which is why my right shoulder is so much stronger than my left. As far as I can tell, the contents of my bag suggest that I worry about being late, having fresh breath, being disconnected, and having a super clean caboose. All good qualities in any soldier. I offer my apologies to Tim O'Brien for stealing his concept, but since he once tried to bugger my wife, I guess we're even.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Inconvenient Deuce

The life of a long distance commuter is all about timing. Here's an example of how my morning usually goes...
Alarm goes off at 6am. I hit the snooze a couple of times. Out of bed by 6:20. Wake the kids, make coffee, wake the kids again, shower, floss, brush, dress for work, match tie to shirt, match socks to pants (usually in the dark), take the kids to the bus stop to catch the effing ungodly 7:05 am bus, back home to grab all my stuff, answer an email, kiss my wife, pet the dog (important to do it in that order), drive to the train station, grab an egginabag and another coffee, catch the 8:05 peaker, arrive at Grand Central by 9:10-ish, walk across town and finally plunk my ass down in my trendy ergonomically correct Aeron chair by 9:30am. This leaves me a half hour to unpack my shit, plug in my laptop, print out my schedule, go through the 50 emails that I didnt answer yesterday and get to my daily 10am meeting. It's a tightly planned morning that doesnt have a whole lot of wiggle room in it, and so here's the problem. Somewhere in this frantic 4 hour window, I have to find a little ME time to do my bidness.

You see, this blog is about life, not some Disney channel laugh track retouched version of life, but the real deal, and having set those parameters, and out of respect for the intelligence of my readers, I really have no choice but to discuss the true indignities that come along with this lifestyle. The simple fact is, that at some point during those non stop, hectic 4 hours between 6am and 10am, I have to drop a deuce.

Now usually, if life is drudging along and the days are falling endlessly into eachother like a row of dominoes layed out in, say, a death spiral pattern, I'm in a pretty good rhythm. I wake up, get the coffee, wake the kids, maybe grab a bowl of shredded wheat or grape nuts, and boom. There you have it. Done and done. Time to move on. But every once in a while, like when it's time to set the clocks back, or if I skip dinner, or if I changed the order I put my socks on, or if earth's rotation around the sun alters its course by more than a thousandth of a degree, I can get knocked off that rhythym, and that's not good.

When that happens, my morning can go something like this:
Alarm goes off at 6am. Out of bed by 6:20. Wake the kids, make coffee. Huh, nothing yet.
Shower, floss, brush, dress for work. Hmmm. Still nada.
Take the kids to the bus, back home to grab all my stuff, answer an email, kiss my wife, pet the dog, and then...uh, oh.

And it's at this point that I have two very unenviable options. I can drop my bag, heed the call and miss my train, therefore probably missing that meeting that a bunch of people in nice work clothes will be expecting me in. Or, I can use the facilities on the train, and here's why that second option is just never ever going to happen. You see, about a year ago, I actually did decide to use the train bathroom, not for a full on sit down, but for a number one moment. And as I was standing in the bathroom, doing my thing, the train came to a stop, and when the train came to a stop, the sliding door of the bathroom that I was positive I had locked, rolled open. And so there I was, in full view of a very appreciative audience who, even though they hadn't put a dollar into a slot, nonetheless had the door slide open for a little Times Square style show.

And so given those two options, whenever I'm faced with the inconvenient deuce and I have to make that choice...well, those people in that meeting can just wait.

Monday, October 19, 2009


For the commuter on the go!
I was standing on the platform one morning waiting for the 7:35 when I ran into my buddy Tripp (Tripp, by the way, is the perfect name for a buddy. Who doesn't like a guy named Tripp?). I noticed that Tripp was eating a hardboiled egg while he waited for the train. I was puzzled by this. Did Tripp actually boil an egg this morning, and then rather than eat it at home, he'd carefully packed it in a ziplock and carried it to the train, only to eat it on the platform? Did he prefer dining al fresco? So I asked him. "Did you bring enough of those for the whole class?".

Turns out he just had the one, and it also turns out that he did not make it himself, but rather he bought it at the train station coffee shop. The woman who runs the shop sells them for 50 cents a piece. Genius.

So the next day, along with my french roast, I got myself an egginabag. The woman who runs the shop told me that there were a steady and slowly growing group of commuters who were buying the eggs. She keeps a set of squeeze handle salt and pepper shakers next to the basket of eggs so that we may season to taste. De-lish.

She also informed me that she keeps the low fat milk under the counter in the mini fridge rather than on display with the regular milk and the half and half. Just not enough room for all three milk products on the counter so the low fat got the short shrift. Whaddyaknow. So now I love walking in to the shop like a pro, pouring my regular cup and reaching for the mini fridge milk, like I just woke up and came down for breakfast. And every once in a while (not everyday cuz of the cholesterol my doctor tells me), I loves grabbing me an egginabag.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dick Move

I'd like to apologize to all the folks who got on the train at White Plains this morning. I pulled a classic dick move. I was sitting in a two-seater and I was sort of half asleep and leaning over into the other seat, eyes closed, when the doors at White Plains opened. Instead of sitting up straight and making the seat readily available, I just kept my eyes closed and stayed in position. Truly a dick move. It pains me to admit that my commute does sometimes bring out the worst in me, but there it is. I'll never pretend I'm something I'm not. Now, if someone taps me on the shoulder and asks me to make a little room, I absolutely do it, no hesitation, but every once in a while (and it's really not very often) I just sit there and make you ask. I know it's hard, and I know the average person will take a look at me and decide it's not worth it and move on to the next seat, but if they screw up some courage and take what is rightfully theirs, well then they earned the seat and my respect at the same time. If you're ever on the train and you see some a-hole with his eyes closed enjoying more than his share of a two seater, do the right thing. Take what is yours, on the train, and in life. Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Talker

"Did you ask your father?"
"What did he say?"
"So I guess the economy's getting better."
Why do you need to do that?'
"Did you finish your homework?"
"What should we do for dinner?"
Blah blah blah blah.

As I'm riding home on the 6:52 peaker, selfishly enjoying the first quiet and peaceful minutes of my endless day, these are the truncated conversations that I hear coming from the woman in the seat across from me. I wait. Patiently. I'm sure she'll make this a quick call and hang up because this a peak train full of hard core commuters, no rookies, and we know the rules and they are as follows: Have your ticket ready when the conductor comes around, keep your station bought bevy on the floor, not the seat in case it spills, and, unless you need to convey immediate information that will save American lives, stay off the effing phone. You most certainly do not ramble on with your daughter about dinner, homework and sleep plans. That's why nerd geniuses like Bill Gates inventing texting lady. WTF.

In cases like this, I have a few options. I can ask her politely to keep her voice down and try to keep the conversation short, which is exactly what Mr. Rodgers would do because he was very calm and patient man and he truly loved humanity. But you see, I got about 5 hours of sleep last night, and I've been at a stressful job all day, and I'm sitting under these interrogation strength fluorescent lights, so the Mr. Rodgers in me is not going to show up.

The second option is to stare. Fix a concrete hard gaze on her that lets her know exactly what I think about the fact that she's sucking up all of my relax time with her inane conversation. So I try the stare. And, well, she just stares back. Go ahead lady.

Another option, which I can only use if I get lucky, is that I wait until she gives the person on the other end of the conversation her cell number. "I might lose you. Just in case I do, my number is blah blah blah - blah blah blah blah" and you write that precious number down r-e-a-l-l-y carefully so you make sure you have it correct, and when you get home you her up for automatic phone messages from the home shopping network. "Please alert me by phone when you have a sale of any Wizard of Oz figurines. God bless".

Unfortunately, I have no such luck tonight. The digits are not forthcoming, and so finally I resort to my last option (and my new favorite). I pull out my iphone, take her picture, and blog about her.
Remember people, the train is a community, and if you aren't a good neighbor, well, chances are someone's going to leave a flaming bag of dog shit on your step.

Oh wait, she's getting off. Chappaqua. Figures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Sunny Side

The 8:05 peaker heading into the city. Sitting on the Sunny Side. At certain times of the morning one side of the train gets blasted with sunlight. Usually, only a rookie sits on the sunny side because it's very hard to read or see a laptop screen or sleep with the sun blasting in the window, especially when it's intermittently blocked by trees and buidlings creating a strobe effect, which I've heard can cause a stroke or a siezure in some cases. That would be a bad way to start the day. But today I'm rolling in my new Maui Jim prescription sunglasses, and life is good.

I designed a business card for my Optometrist friend, Dr. George Amatuzzi. I did it for free, because I've been going in to see him for about 12 years now and I just couldn't stand looking at his effing ugly business cards anymore. They were printed on a thin gray stock (really, who chooses gray stock?) and designed from some sort of standard template that a printer gives you to chose from. So I took one of his cards, went home and designed him a new one, took it back in and asked him to please accept this gift on behalf of all the people in the world with 20/20 vision who couldn't stand looking at his effing ugly business cards anymore. He said thanks and told me to pick out some sunglasses, which I did.

And here I am, sitting on the sunny side in my Maui Jim prescription sunglasses, which I thought were cool when I picked them out, but now I'm not so sure. Im starting to think they look a little doofy. As you can see, I'm also wearing a summer weight suit jacket even though it was 40 degrees this morning, and a button down collar with no tie, which is actually a fashion mistake, but do I look like I give a damn? Nope. Not today. Life is good.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The 7:25

First, I would like to welcome my 5 new followers. You represent the best that mankind has to offer and I thank you.

Today I wanted to talk about the 7:25am Peaker, that is the morning express peak train into the city. This is the train of choice or people who need to be at work by 9am and want as few stops as possible. Type A people. Type A-holes. I tend to take the next train, the 7:35, which is a local train and a little less intense, but today...the 7:25.

Look long and hard at this photo, and then imagine starting every day of your life just like this. Packed to the rivets, industrial strength flourescent lights, and hundreds of people who dream in the form of a powerpoint presentation. This is why they always have those ads for Aruba on the walls at the end of the train car. "Honey, I'm not sure why, but i think we should take a trip to the Islands".

This is a silent train, which is to say that nobody talks, either on a phone or to another passenger. If someone tries to talk to you, which actually happened to me this morning, you know right away that they're a rookie, a new commuter, and you briefly think to yourself, "Isn't that odd. he's talking to me. huh". And then your coffee starts to wake you up a little more and the look on your face shifts to a look that now says, "Sorry. I don't mean to cut you off in the middle of that story about your recent relocation, but It's 7:25 am, and I'm just not the person you wish I was. Goodnight." I'm not proud of that. It just is. You're either tired or hung over or reading or sleeping, but the one thing you are not doing is making conversation.

The other drag about the 7:25 is that its full, which means there are no empty seats, which means that someone has to sit bitch. Someone has to sit in the middle seat in a three seat row. In order to do this, you have to gently nudge the person in the outside seat awake, ask to step over them, and then sit down in the middle, which then wakes up the person in the window seat. If you successfully navigate that obstacle course, then consider this. Of the three average Americans now sitting in these three seats, what do you think the odds are that one of them is morbidly obese. Turns out they're pretty good actually. And finally, if the gods are truly against you today, one of the three people that you're now rubbing arms and thighs with will decide to eat his egg and cheese breakfast out of a Tupperware container. Jackpot. Picture complete. Which makes sitting bitch one of the worst experiences you can have on a commute, because the only thing worse than talking to someone at 7:25 in the morning, is touching them and smelling their eggs.

That's it for today. Look at the picture. Look hard. Tomorrow I'm catching the 7:35.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009. HOME

Welcome to the first post on my effing commute. Every weekday of my life I spend three and a half hours of my day (mostly on a train) going between my job in Manhattan and my house in Westchester County, NY. The life of a long distance commuter (which is an actual term that has a specific definition that I believe I meet) is a soul sucking, Kafkaesque existence that I would wish on no man or woman, but it is my life, and I've learned to accept it. I've also decided to use my time to share my living hell with as many people as are interested. Your Welcome.

So tonight it's 8:15pm and I'm on an Off Peaker, which is a train that doesn't run within the designated peak rush hour times, which is to say I'm on a late train going home, which usually means its full of drunks and shopping trophy wives yacking on their cell phones. Today though, is Columbus Day, which is kind of a holiday (no mail, no school), but not really (Wall Street and my, which means it's a light volume day on the rails. So besides having to pee but not wanting to use the train bathrooms (there's like ten blogs worth of writing to be done later on the train bathrooms), I'm enjoying the ride with my feet up and plenty of "spread out room". It's a good ride.

As you can see, I'm wearing a tie today, which means at some point this morning when I was getting dressed, I thought I might need to look like I was in charge today, which I am usually (in charge) but I don't always want to dress the part. If this blog was called "My Effing Living Room", there would never be a picture of me in a tie. There would more likely be a picture of me in some sort of Hanes underwear product and a T-Shirt that I got for free and then cut the sleeves off of. That's just how I roll. Thanks for reading. See you next time.