The morning commute is often the same . . .
Same people stand in their same spots on the platform to the railroad. They find themselves sitting near the same people in the same seats, and I am one of these people, moving into an already crowded train with hopes to find a seat, and clear my mind before my commute delivers me to the city.
I have maintained this commute for more than two decades, and on more than one of its branches of service. Over the years, and through different workplaces, I often recognize some of the people during my commute. Some I know from experiences, and others I know because I people watch.
The worst additions to the morning commutes are the loud ones; the ones that speak on telephones, and they speak loudly. The worst are the early coffee clutches that sit together and laugh out loud. But my headphones help.
Music has become my saving grace while on the train. It becomes so that I cover my ears, plug myself in, and the otherwise intrusions of silence are reduced to moving lips and hand gestures.
Plugged in, I can disregard the crowd and slip into my routine.
The other morning, I forgot my headphones . . .
She sat next to me in the two rows of three-seats that face each other, and talked for what seemed like hours, yapping about her life, and talking about what she did before money found her wallet, and how she once lived like, “The other half,” too.
Her clothes were undoubtedly expensive, as was the engagement and wedding rings on her finger, her bag, and the glimmering diamonds on her Rolex watch. The smell from her perfume drenched the air, and her skin was deeply tanned. She was blond and petite with a low-cut top revealing a tan-line at the tops of her bosom. She was closing in on the upper stages of middle age; however, she refused to give in, and her outfit remained young in style.
Outside of her world, the morning train was overly stuffed with its share of daily commuters, sitting and standing nearby, rolling their eyes, and hoping the woman would grow tired of her conversation.
Across from the woman was a somewhat balding man with the remainder of long, scraggly hair, brushed backwards over his sun-freckled scalp, and tucked behind his ears. The tan on his skin was proof of an extended, sun-drenched weekend, from perhaps somewhere in the Hamptons, or another east end hot spot.
He wore a navy blue sport coat, a light blue, buttoned-down shirt with a white collar that crested over the lapel of his coat. He had khaki pants, brown loafers, and an oversized silvery timepiece dangling from his wrist.
In between the middle-aged woman’s stories, the man across from her spoke about his ex-wives with numeral status, regarding them as, “Ex number one, two, and three.”
It appeared as if they knew each other for decades and their conversation was far from quiet.
I knew the man, though not well or on a first name basis. I knew him from my time in the garment industry. He sells fabric to garment manufacturers and I sold trimming. We often saw each other at mutual accounts and nodded, but we seldom, if ever spoke, or said things like, “Hello.” And if I am not mistaken, I believe I told him, “Go fuck yourself, pal.” in the elevator at 1400 Broadway.
My years away from the industry would leave me as less than vague in his memory. I suppose my increase in size, weight, and age, would leave me as unrecognizable to the middle-aged man. But I remembered him very well. He looked exactly the same, only his hair had grayed.
I began feeling angry. There were no other open seats on the train and the isles were crowded with standing passengers. I was not armed with my headphones and the ongoing conversation between the two began to infiltrate my system like poison.
I have my routine in the morning, and I depend upon this routine to keep my mental fitness intact. This way, I can arrive at work, pour myself another cup of coffee, and then I can start my day.
My routine is important to me. I see it as vital, and with the conversation being as loud as it was, I found myself unhinged and sinking into aggression.
Sitting restless on the train, and unarmed with my usual versions of defense; I endured, but I also learned something about myself.
More than my distaste for the obnoxious and more than my insecurities of a financially “Less-than,” lifestyle, I began to see my part in each of my downfalls. I saw my thought process and felt my boiling point.
Initially, I wanted to punish the two. I wanted to frighten and humiliate them. I wanted to scream, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!!” but, I refrained.
I saw the triggers—but I had the presence of mind not to react.
My mental fitness is important; I need to be clear-headed throughout my day. And like everyone else in the working world, I need to be thorough and make good decisions. Otherwise, I am likely to make costly mistakes, and costly mistakes lead to unemployment.
And that too is stressful.
As a species, we often react out of emotion. We react out of a combination of thought or opinion, assumptions, and feeling. However, in many cases, thought, assumptions, and feeling are not an accurate science.
They call this combination, “Inventory.”
This our stock and what makes us tick . . .
My inventory was this:
In truth, the two in conversation are unimportant. They were merely symbols or a catalyst, in which case, I saw them as an embodiment of my frustrations, which began with the simple fact that “I” forgot my ear-pieces and I couldn’t listen to music or start my day as I usually do. I saw their wealthy get-ups as a reminder of my financial concerns, which left me feeling, “Less-than,” which creates fear, and fear creates anger, and next comes aggression.
Different pieces of them touched on different pieces of my life. But like many, it is easier for me to react than it is to be honest and reflect.
Step 10 of 12 in a 12-Step program is this:
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
I have to do this. Everyday. All the time.
And just like the body falls apart without proper fitness, so does the mind.
The religious say, “Unless we leash ourselves and pray on a daily basis, we give in to sin.”
I say the same thing comes with mental fitness:
Unless I leash myself and maintain my thoughts on a daily basis, I give in to my own insanities. I am capable of an amazing craziness, and that’s when downfalls happen.
. . . It still would have been nice to tell the middle-aged man to go fuck himself though. It would have been fun to explain, “I knew you back when you were with wife number two.”
She was the one with the fake tits . . . right?