Friday 19 September 2014

Becoming Undead

For most of my working life, I have managed to avoid rush hour. Generally I would start work before the rush started and I finished working hours before the afternoon rush would start.

I suppose that there have been times when I have been caught up in rush hour, but there haven’t been enough of them to stand out in my mind. I guess I am one of the lucky ones that have been able to piss away and hour or more a day doing something other than sit in traffic. However, if I do have a need to get into rush hour traffic I tend to get more than a little anxious. Thankfully, very few people who are retired find a need to experience gridlock.

Today, I had to venture into the morning rush just like any other normal “workie”. I have been called to do my civic duty and show up for jury selection. The jury selection process is another blog entirely, so I won’t spend any time on it now. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get downtown by 8:00 AM, but being sort of anal, I decided that an hour should be enough. I left home at 7:00AM and stepped off of the LRT at 7:48AM. I guess that isn’t bad, but I have gone downtown on my bike in just over 45 minutes and didn’t have to pay the Transit Commission $3 for the privilege.

I stood on the platform surrounded by my fellow travelers. Unlike me, this trip wasn’t new or interesting for them; it was just another day. I guess I was too early for the commuters that liked their jobs and looked forward to another productive day. These people appeared to have slept in their clothes and gone without a morning coffee or the good healthy breakfast that the Canada Food Guide suggests. Maybe they will perk up once we get on the train.

The train was standing room only and populated by the same kind of people that had been on the platform. There wasn’t a smile in sight, and I was really looking for one. All that I saw was a bunch of half-asleep people who had their noses in a cell phone. There were a few people who were pretending to sleep, but that’s just because an old, infirm woman was swaying back and forth in front of them. There were two guys from the last century who were actually reading a newspaper, you know, the kind with actual paper that refuses to fold nicely.

I learned the trick of reading a newspaper on the transit many years ago. It takes a little practice, but once you master it, you look like a commuting God. Unfortunately, since I never had to commute on a bus or train, no one ever worshipped at my feet.

I looked at my fellow early morning travelers and saw the inspiration for all of these “undead” movies, books and TV shows. Vacant stares, mouths hanging open, slovenly appearance and that general undead vibe marked them all for me. I don’t watch any of those shows, but I am pretty sure they pick their next “victim” by how different the person looks. I looked at my reflection in the rain-streaked window and saw a wide-awake, smiling, alert and well-coifed older, bearded gentleman. Perfect to be the next person to have his brain eaten.

I stopped the smile right away, unfocused my eyes and let my mouth hang open with just a hint of drool at the corner. I made it to my stop, but just barely and I am still looking for trouble to appear behind me at any moment. I think I will ride my bike downtown tomorrow, it’s quicker and there is less chance of becoming undead.

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