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.