The commute

Well, I rise up every morning at a quarter to eight
Some woman who’s my wife tells me not to be late
I kiss the kids goodbye, I can’t remember their names
And week after week, it’s always the same

And it’s ho, boys, can’t you code it
And program it right
Nothing ever happens in the life of mine
I’m hauling up the data on the Xerox line.

“White Collar Holler,” by Nigel Russell as performed by Stan Rogers

I see those guys on the train every morning – and now I’m one of them. (Sort of.) You know who I mean: the guys with the invariably-blue vendor shirts, chinos and laptop cases. The ones who fill up so many seats on the morning commuter train.

I leave the house at 7:40 and there’s always one free parking spot left near the train station; I get on the train with five or so minutes to spare. (I don’t know how it’ll be in the cold, snowy weather – the entire station shelter reeks of urine and I’d rather freeze solid than actually sit on that bench.)

I climb onto the train, my commuter pass in a plastic holder hanging from a length of plumber’s chain around my neck. I’m hauling a large canvas tote containing my purse, some yarn for crocheting, a library book and yesterday’s papers I haven’t finished reading.

The walk from the station wakes me up. I turn right past the 7-Eleven that’s next to the methadone clinic, through a horde of Baby Mommas pushing strollers and puffing cigarettes (there’s a training and counseling program for young welfare mothers in my building, as well as a treatment center for child-sex offenders). I join the group of social-work types pushing into the elevator and get off at the fourth floor, where a clinic also offers walk-in pregnancy testing. (A cautionary note to teens: I’ve only twice seen the girls accompanied by their boyfriends. Usually, they’re with their mothers – or alone. Mostly alone.)

The other morning, there was graffiti on the hallway wall outside our office.

“We need to move,” someone muttered.

“It’s the city, dude,” someone else replied.