It’s 5:59 and I have to get from 26th and Park to my train in the basement of Grand Central by 6:10.
Sure, the next train is only 23 minutes later. But Little G has been hassling me about not playing enough of late; he was spoiled by the abundance of Dad-ness over the Christmas break, and then again with the three-day weekend earlier this week.
“Play with me, Daddy!” he’s implored me all week as I set out for work. If I don’t work, you don’t get Legos, I tell him. Hit ’em where it hurts.
So I had to be on that 6:10 to give the kid an hour before bed.
Making a train in 11 minutes is, paradoxically, a bit easier than making one in, say, 14 minutes. If I have 16 minutes, I can walk the whole route at a brisk clip. If I have 11 minutes, I have to run the whole thing. If I have 14 minutes, it’s a nebulous mix of walking and jogging, and sometimes I get the mix wrong.
So I ran, and actually made the thing with about two minutes to spare.
The 6:10 doesn’t leave at 6:10. Maybe it’s that one-minute late rule the New York Times unearthed, I say. But the minute passes, and we’re still sitting.
The conductor walks by. I don’t take the 6:10 much but I always notice the guy on it. He seems like he’s drunk. I’ve never smelled hootch on him or anything, but he just has that look–the glassy eyes, the Weebles Wobble demeanor, the jaunty humor that doesn’t quite meet its mark, the layer of permascruff on his face that makes one think of hangovers, unnatural desires for bloody marys, and internal promises to quit smoking.
The conductor sorts out some sort of door trouble and we’re off.
But in Harlem, it’s a similar story. We close the doors at 6:22 and sit.
The wobbly conductor walks by again, talking to himself.
“Can we fasten the door down there?” he says to no one in particular.
I watch him pass through our car, then see him through the window of the next car, making his way up the aisle, looking for the faulty door.
Little G awaits at home, Legos in hand, looking toward the door.
C’mon, dude. Get this thing moving.