I take the subway to and from school daily. That dependence means that when the ill-fated system has problems, I am helpless to do anything.
Today, after a “switching problem” resulted in “severe delays,” I had one of those split-second decisions: to allow myself to get annoyed with the situation beyond my control or to make the best of it. It’s so easy to get angry. SO easy. But, what would have been the point, and what would E have learned from seeing me respond that way?
I had multiple opportunities to lose it, too: after sitting in a tunnel for upwards of 20 minutes, we arrived at a station only to have to get off. Then, we waited for another 20 minutes for the next train but couldn’t board because it was overcrowded. There we sat, on the platform, waiting.
During this time, E played with his Doodle board, sang some songs, and read some books with me. I narrated what was happening, while sneaking in moments to call school and let them know I wouldn’t make my assigned proctoring shift (wait: was that the saving grace of this day?!).
We finally got on another train. Passengers pushed in for us and a woman with a Timbuktu messenger bag noticed E motioning toward its straps. She leaned down, demonstrating for him how to buckle and unbuckle the fittings, then remained perched over him– precariously–while he repeated that game for a few good long minutes. She seemed as delighted as he was. After she left us at the next stop, some other person cleared the way so we could sit down and we proceeded to read again.
This chain of human connection to bolster our trip…
When we read, I get into it, but I don’t go overboard. We are on the train, after all. Two people opposite us watched us read, one commenting that he loved that I was reading to E and another something about reading with her children. That began a conversation with her about her local high school, block scheduling, and ended with her showing E pictures of her dogs on her cell phone.
When we walked out of the train, she smiled, waved goodbye and walked up the stairs while we went the opposite direction to wait for the elevator.
And just like that, our monster commute riddled with unfortunate delays didn’t seem so awful.