• The Archer

Reading on a Train

The other day I was reading a fantastic book and I had a plan to go to the gym (it was a Sunday) and spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch really enjoying the book.


I completed my gym workout and hopped onto the train to head home, shower, and spend an afternoon luxuriating with my book and rolling out my tired muscles.


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Then, at 103 street the train received a dreaded announcement over the intercom.

"We are being held momentarily in the station for a sick passenger."


There is a concept of empathy that we each have towards our fellow human beings. Obviously this person did not want to get sick on a train, and, as the incident was not in my train car, for all I knew the illness could be literally as serious as a heart attack. It could have been a woman in imminent labor or a child struck with terrible pain.


But as a hardened 8 year New Yorker, I, and all my fellow passengers, groaned. A sick passenger is the longest possible hold up in all the subway hold ups. They bring in a team of paramedics who appear to do 6 hour surgery on the passenger who is almost always a homeless person who died of an overdose three days ago and someone just noticed now #deblasio.


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There were no good options where I could transfer nor was walking home the remaining 86 blocks an option. I was stuck on this train until someone who got their EMT degree five weeks ago finished their first open heart surgery.


I did, however, have my book.


I don't leave the house without a book, I've found that way I never miss an opportunity to read.


So, I leaned back in my plastic orange subway seat and began to read. As the minutes dragged on and I made significant progress in my book a thought occurred to me: this wasn't how I had planned to spend my afternoon. My comfy couch was miles away as was my fuzzy blanket and noise machine. But...how much different was it really?


I had the same book. I was enjoying it and laughing out loud on the subway. I had space to stretch my legs. I had music and airpods to play from my phone.


It's not what I envisioned. But it wasn't all together, that bad. I finished about 50 pages (I am a speed reader) and the paramedics exited the train and we continued on to our intended destination, only about 30 minutes behind schedule.


The endorphins I get from the gym sometimes make me loopy and that loopy-ness produced this thought: I am not married. I wish I were married. I wish my train was moving forward.


But I have my book. I have music. I can stretch out my legs. It's not what I planned but it is what is and what is isn't that bad.


Maybe the goal should be to stop trying to control the circumstances and instead to just control my enjoyment no matter what the circumstances are. The New York Metro Transit Authority has taught me many lessons, most of which boil down to: no matter how much money, influence, and power anyone has, they are not in control and everything that can go wrong will go wrong.


If Andrew Cuomo, a man who firmly believes he created the Earth cannot fix the myriad subway problems, no one can. We are all human and we cannot fix the perceived "problems" we see in the world.


For me the big problem, the train stopping emergency, is that I am not married.


But the train will go on eventually. Only G-D knows when. (And just to make it very clear in case you got confused, G-D is NOT Andrew Cuomo.)


Meanwhile, it's not the fun day of reading I envisioned. But I'm still enjoying myself and I'm still enjoying the book.

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