It’s 6:50AM, and with my cup of coffee and messenger bag in tow, I’m ready to go. A quick 12 minute walk gets me to the nearest Trax station. I’ve arrived a couple of minutes before the Blu-Line train is to depart, enough time to purchase a ticket and find a space to wait. Most mornings it’s a quiet crowd of early morning commuters heading into the city. Occasionally there is one or two homeless individuals waiting for a handout, or talking to themselves. With ear-buds in, and music playing I sit on a metal bench and await my trains arrival. It’s early and so the weather isn’t too hot, but I know that I’m in for a stuffy ride once I board. The Blue-Line arrives and people begin to make their way to the loading zones. The train is packed, you can see the sardine like conditions through the tinted windows. A small moment of dread and fear comes over me…here we go. I step inside the doorway and up the couple of stairs, I don’t bother even looking for any empty seat, I doubt there is one. Instead I grab the nearest handrail, the one that is farthest from everyone else. I crank up my music and try to avoid eye contact with other passengers. I try to focus on my music and the sites out the window, but become distracted by the movement and commotion around me. Across from me standing at another hand rail is an obvious college student, backpack on and ear-buds in as well. To the right of me sits the business men, usually knee-deep in their ipads or blackberry’s. To the left a “punk-kid” is sprawled out on a bench seat, taking up more than his fair share of seating. His music blares loudly, it is an uncomfortable selection of rap that is neither decent or recognizable. Up front those with bicycles have crammed themselves in, and stand uncomfortably trying to keep their balance. There is a man, of middle-eastern decent, talking as loud as he can in his native language, unaware of his intrusion into others daily commute. This whole time, I shift my eyes from individual to individual, and catch myself wondering about their life stories. Who are these people? What has brought them to this train? Where are they going? Then I realize, that I honestly don’t care, and just want off the sardine can of a train. The car rumbles from station to station, it’s morning, so the car begins to fill instead of emptying. Space is becoming a precious commodity. Everyone is fighting for the seat next to the elderly woman knitting, and trying to avoid sitting next to the tweaker who is continually muttering to himself. The train starts to enter the downtown area, and finally we see the train start to empty out. The City Center exit sees a large number pour out, and I breath a sigh of relief. I have some of my personal space back again. The train continues on and makes its way to the Temple Square station, this is my stop. I can’t believe I’ve actually made it. I congratulate myself on doing the impossible, and step off the train. The fresh city air, a contradiction I know, hits my face and all is well.
That is, until the evening commute home.