Scene… Thousands of hapless New Jersey Transit passengers are crammed like sardines inside a rush hour train. This blogger is distracting himself, however, by pouring through “Cliff Notes on the Holy Bible”. I was doing so to prepare for an upcoming intra-pod Bible board game competition that would see the winner receive an automatic by into Purgatory.
Dialogue: An elderly gent, whose head was somehow lodged between my forearm and bicep, coughed and looked up at me.
Elderly gent: (with a heavy British accent): “I say, is it always like this?”
Me: “Yup.” (I didn’t mean to be curt, but I was just getting to the section on Sodom & Gomorrah, the Old Testament’s answer to Hiroshima).
EG: “Pardon me, but isn’t this train scheduled to arrive in New York at 8:32 am?”
EG: “Well, it’s already 9:05, and they haven’t said a word.”
Perhaps influenced by what I already knew was about to happen to poor Lot’s wife, I put down my Cliff Notes and explained.
Me: “You’re riding on New Jersey Transit, a public utility with no competition, rude conductors, soiled restrooms and absolutely no incentive to improve, so they get you to Penn Station when they feel like it. By the way, I said, my name’s Steve. EG’s moniker was Howie. We tried shaking hands but that was physically impossible.
Howie: ” But, I’m already late for my first class.”
Me: (suddenly intrigued, and knowing Lot’s wife’s lot had already been sealed, put down my book and asked Howie what he was studying).
Howie: “English as a second language. I was born, and raised, in Manchester, put in 45 years in the technology field and now want to give something back. I’m studying in order to teach English to school kids in Ecuador.”
Me: “That’s very admirable.”
Howie: “Thank you. But, I’m taking a six-week cram course and can’t afford to miss a minute. Now, I’ll already be 30 minutes late for my very first class. Don’t these bastards care about their image and reputation?”
Me: “They’re commuting’s answer to Donald Trump. They don’t have to worry about what they do or say.”
I then decided to impart some hard-earned wisdom….
Me: “You need to outthink NJT. So, if you absolutely must be somewhere at 9am, you purposely build-in an extra half hour and take a much earlier train. But, even that’s no guarantee since their trains break down faster than a Carly Fiorina bid for Vice President.”
Howie: “Remarkable that they can get away with such shoddy service.”
Me: “Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait until you try flying on United to reach Quito. You’d be better off buying two burros and trekking from here to there.”
As the train finally arrived a full 45 minutes late, I bid adieu to the harried Howie, a noble, elderly gent trying to do his small part to make the world a better place. But, as they have with so many other budding careerists, NJT had already derailed his best laid plans.