Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Morning F

Fourth Ave.

I am always tired.  I get up horribly early, to catch the train to work, and I stay up too late.  I live fueled by strong coffee, and I have strong coffee pit stops all over town.  Because I'm always tired, long train rides make me sleepy, and an hour on the subway will send me nodding.  I hate that.  This morning I found myself, in rapid succession, nestled on the shoulder of each passenger beside me.  I also dropped my newspaper.  Twice.  There are two strategies I employ to avoid this.  One is to get a really jolting coffee just before I get on the train.  The problem with that is that the places that sell good coffee aren't generally open until seven, which is too late, & muddy deli coffee doesn't do the trick.  So if I wait til after seven, I won't get a seat until at least Jay Street, and I may end up late for work.  Nor is it guaranteed effective.  That hour ride makes me an infant. The other solution, which I devised last year, is to get off the train mid-journey, and have coffee somewhere along the way.  I've tried this in a bunch of places - the East Village,  Soho,  Bryant Park,  Roosevelt Island  a few of them - & it's sort of absurdly fun to take a coffee break from your commute.  You have to get out of the house early to pull it off, but once you do, it's pretty sweet. It's like being a commuting dilettante.  It gives the workday ride a little class, it's like taking that fucking ride to a whole other level.  I'll get to see the morning opened up all in spots over the city. I'm here there and everywhere. I know a number of the people that give out free newspapers now, and I sometimes chat with the guys who haunt the benches at Broadway Lafayette and 42nd.  I am the Walt Whitman of the F train coffee layover!
Not today though. This morning, I went for the lazier, less effective first option.  A nice strong cup, with Billie Holiday singing Summertime, set the tone for a good morning, even in the rain.  A kind of dank, misty drizzle, really, comforting in an English kind of way.  The traffic on Fourth hurtling by with its usual low, rain-soaked hiss, making me think. as it always does, of Lowell's "a savage servility slides by on grease".  It's a great line, but the way a wet rush hour avenue plants those words in my mouth, over and over, is more than strange.
No seat of course, and morning train rides are on the dull side.  No one talking much, just drained sad faces, eyes shut, or looking at their papers or gadgets.  Because I'm standing, I'll get right next to the doors, hands pressed against the glass, and look at the view of Gowanus, between Fourth & Carroll.  Sometimes I'll put my face right up to the glass.  I want to get as much of that view as I can.  It's the best part of my ride, & I never tire of it.  It's a note of grace at the start of the day, and even after years and years, I'll find some detail I haven't seen before: a new piece of graffiti, the look of a lot grown green with weeds in the spring, the drums of cement trucks, all in a line, slowly churning round and around.  The light over the canal is always changing, as the seasons turn, or as a night's heavy rain makes the next's morning's scene as sharp as a knife.  It cuts you open too.  Sometimes places will make me cry more easily than people, and coming back over the Culver Viaduct on a golden evening can just about break my heart.

So, crowds for stops and stops today, and as I said, the damn coffee doesn't work.  Give me something stronger, please.  Even though I got far too close to my subway neighbors though, I don't think I drooled. Once I get beyond Midtown, the crowds thin out, and by Roosevelt Ave. I'm the only rider in the car.  It's all mine!
This is an interesting experience.  It's also mildly worrying, but you figure that eight o'clock in the morning is a safe enough hour,  and you like the novelty of your own private car.  Then a guy gets on, a little dishevelled, with a couple of well-used plastic bags, and he wants to know if the train is going to Jamaica.  Sure it is, you tell him, and there's a little tiny voice of caution in your head, but he sticks to his end of the carriage, so you feel OK.  By the time he turns around & starts fiddling with his pants the little voice has gotten louder, and more than a little shrill.  You're not the slightest bit sleepy any more! A moment later everything is fine.  You figure out his unbelting/unzipping routine is his just getting ready to open the end door and piss on the tracks!  Hurrah!  As he's pissing away, you wonder if you can get a quick shot.  If he sees you, this might turn out to be a bad idea, but he's taking his time & you figure you can do it.  Success!!  It's a poor picture, but here it is, and here I am (out of the picture), heading for Sutphin & another day's work..

The pisser in action.

1 comment:

Roger_Paw said...

Yikes! Yeah, being alone in an empty car is unnerving! You're stuck worrying who will enter your car any second now. Glad you were safe!