The bus gets there at 7:46, and leaves within the same minute. It is now 6:00, so I close my eyes for a bit. All the sudden it’s 7:08, and I karate the blankets off of me. My stupid alarm did exactly what I told it to, but I blame it anyway for not getting me out of murder victim position.
My clothes, carefully laid out on the floor next to my desk, are arranged in the exact way I wanted to dress today from the previous night. Shoes and all, all I have to do is wash up and slip into them. Freakin’ Johnathan farted on them the night before, though, so I take my time, pretending 4 minutes of teeth brushing and hair fussing will be time enough to allow the memory of the incident dissipate. It isn’t.
I slip on my pants too fast, and my toenail catches the hem of my black skinny jeans. Stupid jeans, my pain is all your fault. I kinda’ wince, but not really, so I can look tough. For who? For me.
My favorite tie–cobalt-y, slate-y, business-y blue–is super glued at the small end’s seams. My sister got it for me while she was studying abroad at Sussex in Britain, where apparently she witnessed a guy drink vodka from his eye. She likes to pick out unique accessories and clothes for me, and I’m the kind of dude who actually digs accessorizing. It sits, oddly thin and chic on a warm navy blue fitted shirt. I slip on my Toms, coat, and snap on my bracele… I mean WRISTBAND… and walk around back and grab my bike from the garage.
it’s 7:37, but whatevs, I got this. I was built for speed. But I’ll take my time. I didn’t really get much sleep last night because I had a few nightmares. About what? Nuffin’. Just scary stuff. All I know is that I woke up unhappy. Stupid brain.
I get to the bus stop at 7:45. I’m pretty cool for like 3 seconds, and then I realize a red and blue short bus in the distance leaving in the other direction. What the HELL, I totally got here on time! I short panic for a bit, but only kinda’, so I can look tough, for me, and then I turn and see another red and blue short bus on its way over, and calm down. I know it’s the right bus, because I totally planned it out the night before, and when I’m not a complete idiot, I’m actually pretty good at keeping a schedule, even in leniency.
The bus stops in front of me, and in the window I can see like 3 or 4 people, and I do a little jig in my head in joy at the small number of riders. I don’t have to make eye contact, yaaaay! As the bus stops, the bike rack kind of jiggles, so I call into the bus, and say in my coolguy-est voice, “Hey, can I get the rack down?” to the bus driver.
“…You do that.”
“Yeah, thank-… wait what?”
“YOU do that.”
“Oh. ‘Kay cool, then” I say as I try to hold my cool. As I walk over and fiddle with the rack for a bit, I finally find the silver handle and release the rack to pull it down on the front of the bus. I’m happy that it doesn’t take me more than a second to figure out how to lock my bike, stretch the tire latch over the front tire, and head back to the inside of the bus. While I was doing that, I ignored a light honk on the horn, which I disregarded as a Hurry up, you noob, get inside, I have a schedule to keep. I held my head up high as I walked back.
As I step on, the bus driver says “Fix your bike, it’s going to fall off.” Dangit, I was trying to be COOL! I look back, and he’s right… the latch on the front tire isn’t up high enough. I cool trot over and slide it up, and cool trot back on the bus. Whatever. I have a British skinny tie, jerk. You drive a short bus.
I get off the bus, and walk up to the train station doors, and walk in through the giant wooden doors. The train leaves at 8:03, and it’s about 7:50, so I just kinda’ meander around for a bit, recalling the conversation I had with the bus driver. He actually was a pretty cool guy, despite me being able to foresee every one of his jokes almost word for word. I regret my thought ridiculing his profession… That was really messed up.
The tickets are 6.75 one way, and 13.75 for an all-day pass, so it’s actually a lot cheaper than driving. I click around, pretending to know what I’m doing as I hold up a short line. I act all like This stupid machine, can you believe this thing?! and shrug my shoulders, raising my hands, looking back at other soon-to-be ticket buyers. They shrug, widen their eyes, and shake their heads in affirmation. Yup, it’s totally the dispenser. Stupid ticket machine idiot box. I finally get my ticket, and walk off, shrugging and throwing my palms up while looking back at the people in line. They do the same back, and we just keep shrugging at each other until I’m out of range. I read the ticket to confirm a successful purpose, and the large bold print reads “ZONE 4 to ZONE 2”. Just like I planned, I should be getting on the 329 train.
After the fight with the ticket dispenser, I walk down a gradually descending corridor going under the tracks. Once again, I play it cool and pretend to know where I’m going. After about 2 seconds I realize my facade of assuredness might take me onto the wrong train. Like a switch, my faux confidence disappears, and my head is flipping back and forth like that of a frantic cat. I probably look like an idiot, but I don’t care. I just want to get to work! In my fit of panic, I catch sight of a sign with what looks like train track assignments as my head is wildly swiveling about my neck. I walk over, and frantically scan the columns of times and tracks. Finally, I see the number 329, and find it’s corresponding track number. Track 3. Sweet.
As I walk my bike up the ramp to track 3, I see a bunch of hipsters with fixed gear bikes all the way down toward where the front of the bus will be. I look on with jealous admiration at their swift and flashy movements. Their pencil-thin tires rolling to and fro in as they twist and tweak stylishly at their masters’ will. I go where they are, because I figure that’s where the bike car will be. I remember riding this train before, and seeing all the bungie cords on the sides of the car as I looked down below from the top-level seats. Ah! The top level seats! I better get one of those!
A man to the left of me is talking about his boring boat with a boring friend and they talk about more boring things. Just as I think I’m going to throw my bike at them, the train whistles into view, and they’re saved from my wrath. All the people with bikes nudge closer and closer to the door as the train slows, cutting their distance to the door in half indefinitely until the door opens. We pile on, politely shoving each other and apologizing, and I finally get inside. I lock my bike up with the bungie cords, carefully winding and wrapping the cord around various crossbars, and get my nice, cozy roost coupe seating. The chair in front of you in the roost coupe is turned around, facing you, and you can put your computer, backpack, or feet on it. Aaaah, nice. I look across, and give a neighborly nod across the gap to the passenger on the other side as I choose to place my feet on the chair. He nods back from his own roost coupe. We’re cool guys.
I’m enjoying my spacious ride, and think about what I’m going to do when I get to work. Then, the train makes a stop. Below, I can see people piling in, asking permission to park bikes next to other bikes, and finding seats. Then, cutting off my view for a second, a man is waiting for something. I look up at him for a second, and he looks down the aisle of seats, as if to signal me to do the same. I look down the aisle, and I’m not happy. All the seats are full, and he has to share my roost coupe. Frick. I look across the gap to the other cool guy, and with his head, he tells me Daaaaang, dude, that sucks…, and I signal back Yeeah, I knooooow… He pities me, and relaxes back. While he picks up his iPod, another man is waiting in front of him. I see some familiar expressions of aww man, and his roost coupe gets a little more cozy, too. Now I feel less uncool. Misery loves company.
As I tried not to bump knees with my new riding partner, I cursed my long legs and lack of space between my knee and his crotch area. The ride got easier as I forgot he was there, but it was hard to dismiss his presence when his face isn’t 4 feet from my own, and we accidentally glance into each others’ eyes. The quick pull-away almost hurts my neck every time as we both try to avoid eye contact. I sigh with relief as my stop nears, slap my knees, and silently and internally bid my roost partner good riddance to head downstairs and retrieve my bike.
By now, my bike is surrounded with new friends, and I almost regret separating it from them. I turn my bike around, as the train slows down. Then I notice her. Woah. She’s looking right at me! NOBODY looks right at me on purpose, ‘specially not girls…! I almost break my neck again to avoid the gaze, and look out the window. I lose cool factor as the train jerks slower, and I lose balance a bit. Not enough to save myself and look cool, but just a little, enough to look awkward. Stupid inertia.
I hope she’s not watching me as I regain my composure… So I look up, and see her again. Whew, she was probably looking out the window as I stumbled, too. Now that she’s looking away, I take my turn, and examine her outlook. I notice a single-shoulder bag, army green skinny jeans, and shoes that I almost mistake for Toms, but then realize they’re more like casual-ish slip-on shoes. I chance a look at her face, and notice an interesting pair of huge-rimmed glasses, pony-tailed curly dark hair, and warm, almost tan olive skin color. I go back to those glasses. They’re huge! But they’re kinda’ cool… I like’em, they’re kinda’ cute in a hipster-y way. I actually just dig her style, I think it’s really cool! She’s dressed similar to me. But like a girl, shut up.
As I found my way to examine her eyes, I noticed I was staring helplessly. She didn’t look like the pretty you see on TV. She wasn’t hot, she wasn’t sexy. She was cute. And I dig that. I notice that I chanced too long of a glance, and see that she actually was staring back… Shoot. Time to break my neck again. We both shoot away from each other, and the train finally comes to a complete stop. She gets up, but I only see from the corner of my eye. I look left, right, up, left, down, right, up, just anywhere but in her general direction. Then, after misjudging her position, I accidentally look back right at her, and notice her, once again, looking back! There’s no way she didn’t mean to. This must be… wait… yeah, I think she might be diggin’ me! We both shatter our neck bones once again, and in the corner of my eye I can see a subtle smile, and notice I am doing the same. If my dark skin would allow me to show a blush, I’d be of a bright RedVine hue. She struggles to tear the smile away from her face as she looks down and out the opening doors, and I do the same.
As not to seem like a creeper, I give her some distance, and walk my bike down the pre-routed path about 30 yards behind. She’s going the same way, I swear, I’m not following! She crosses the train tracks, and I get on my bike so I can just pass her and be on my way. She crosses the street, and I keep on my side. I keep my gaze ahead, and cross the street in front of her, catching myself hoping she saw me. I hope she watched me ride away to work.