Mystery Train

OK, so it wasn’t a 2 1/2 hour ride this morning, as I’d feared.

We’d caught a little lull in the nor’easter, so I pulled my tweed cap down low over my eyes and set out on foot for the 8:16.

Just as I approached Hummerville station, along the back entrance that’s slightly depressing, I heard an announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen,” it said, “the express train to Grand Central is running five minutes late.”

I slowed down and checked out some of the newspapers in the big black octo-box next to the stairs, and saw a man chugging it across the street. I gave him the international “slow down” sign–hands out, palms down, hands slowly moving up and down. “Five minutes late,” I said.

“It’s right there!” he yelled, as if a rabid diplodocus was bearing down on us.

Indeed, a train was shimmying into the station. It was an ancient thing, older even than those crappy trains on the New Haven Line. I think it was some express that was supposed to be much earlier, but was late enough to be close to the 8:16. Regardless, I jumped on.

The train was half full. The seats were made of pleather and the lighting awful. There was open air near the doors, with mounds of snow piling up on the floor there. If you closed your eyes you could’ve been commuting in 1982, psyched as all hell about your new personal cassette player that’s the size of a cigar box, buttoning the vest of your three-piece suit against the encroaching cold.

It was no beauty, but the old train did some pretty fair time to the city, skipping North White, and was only half full to boot. Foot of snow be damned, we got in two minutes early.

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