The Train Game


We all excel at certain things; some of us are excellent storytellers, or painters, or cooks.  Me?  I'm really good at missing my train.  I cannot tell you how many times I have raced to the train station only to see the train pulling away from the platform.  It is such an infuriating feeling, but hey, at least I'm consistent and quite good at it.  

Last night was no different.  My plan was to meet my friend Suzen for happy hour and then come home and spend the rest of my night with Jay.  I caught the train into the city without a hitch; in fact, in a serendipitous twist of fate, my friend Jen just happened to be on the same train and we got to spend a solid 25 minutes of unexpected quality time together.  Anyway, I got into town and met my friend for happy hour, which by the way, if you've never been to Palace at the Ben, you must go.  It was delicious.  We drank mango martinis and shared plates of Murg Malai Kabab and Panir Tikka.  YUM.  

Anyway, we wrapped up around 7:00, and left the restaurant at 7:04.  I thought my train options were something like 7:15 and 7:40, so I knew I had to hustle if I wanted to make the 7:15, but I was only a few blocks away from the station and felt confident that I could make it.  When it comes to train times, I tend to remember general times, but not exact times -- this is bad, and ultimately makes me really good at missing trains.  I decided to call Jay as I hustled so that he could check the exact time of the train for me.  I was still a solid two blocks away when he said, "The train leaves at 7:10, you have four minutes".  

I started running, really really running.  I was weaving in and out of people on the sidewalk.  My pants were falling down so I had one hand clutching my pants trying to keep them in place, and used the other hand to propel me forward, the way runners do when they pump their arms in unison with their legs.  I'm pretty sure I didn't look like a graceful and coordinated runner though.  Nope, I'm pretty sure I looked more like the hot mess express, all crazy-eyed and sweaty, charging through the city streets trying desperately to keep my pants up.  

I finally reached the station, tore open the door, flew down the first set of stairs, raced down the corridor, glanced at the clock, saw the numbers 7:09, said "shit", glanced down to the platform, saw my train sitting there, tore open the second door, flew down the second set of stairs, swung the door open, flung my body onto the platform, ...and saw my train pull away. 

Mentally, I collapsed.  Physically, I just stood there, lungs heaving out of my chest, sweat pouring down my face, eyes staring with bewilderment and defeat at the now-empty track.  Despite the fact that the next train was scheduled to arrive in only 30 minutes, I felt like it was all over, I had lost the game, again.  Train: 5, Jen: 0.  I never seem to miss my train by a few minutes, which I think would be much easier to stomach; I seem to always miss my train by seconds, with one foot on the platform, watching the train snake out of the station.  The two train taillights, like evil red eyes, lock with my eyes and say "ha ha ha, got you again sucker!"  Ugh!  So infuriating.  I'll get you next time, train!

But, once I get over the initial disappointment of missing my train once again, I inevitably  tend to enjoy my time at the station, where there are abundant people-watching opportunities and sometimes excellent street musicians offering musical distractions in exchange for a buck or two.  Last night was no different, I sat on a bench and watched the comings and goings of all sorts of different people, and even watched someone miss their train.  I empathized with his frustration, recognized the crazy look in his eye, and quietly raised my fist in solidarity as he took his respective place on a bench and resigned himself to the fact that he had just lost a round of the train game.  Train: 1, Man 0.