The silky smooth synth of Redbone hums away in the background.
Just do yourself a favour and listen to it.
The chair is rocking from side to side as the train coasts along the rails, occasionally getting a touch of air as it passes over a small rise in the tracks. As Bec put it, it is like sitting in the front seat of a truck, with the hydraulics lifting and gliding you across the dips in the road.
Our trip didn’t start this smoothly though.
We were up at 5 am, to be able to make it to the train, which was leaving at 8:20 am. Little did we know that if we hadn’t got up that early, we would have suffered much more than we expected. There was a massive crash, on none other than the 410. The road was so icy, that even the cops that were walking around nearly slipped over multiple times. Now, imagine now a car is going to with that. We we’re about 5 mins late to a crash site. If we had been only a few mins earlier, I think we would have been able to make it through the crash without getting caught up in the mess.
But, we ended up getting caught in the traffic.
We can see the emergency services, but we just cant get past them. We watch as people try to sneak through, and as the cops start to loose their patience. It unfolds exactly as you imagine. We were planning on being there before 7. By the time we arrived at the front of the station, it was nearly 7:40am. We were stuck in that traffic for a good half hour at least.
We make it to the station, and Drew is the saviour of the day. He’s dropped us right out the front of Union Station. He lets us know how much he has enjoyed having us around, and we make sure that he knows we have loved being with him too.
We begin the venture to NYC.
Our trip had begun with only a handful of people on board, but as the train attendants had informed us over the intercom, the train would be collecting people at each stop between here and New York, so make sure that we weren’t taking up more space than is necessary. The further along the trip we go, the more people are added to the carriages. The whole dynamic of the train evolves after each stop.
People get on, people get off. With them, the atmosphere that they carry.
It’s always interesting watching people. In Toronto, I saw this one guy with his mrs and kid on the same carriage as us. Everything was in order. He had this mid-length haircut, round glasses and an incredibly chiseled jawline. He resembled a modern-day Joker, from Full Metal Jacket. His suit and the way that he would always gaze off over your shoulder instead of looking you in the eye suggested that he felt as though he should be some sort of a Harvard graduate, if he wasn’t already.
His little girl dons this red jacket, and has her manners sorted right out. They look like the sort of parents that put their kid into private kindergarten, to make sure that she has the best chance at success.
We have another chick and her mum board the train.
She’s gotta be no more than her early 20’s, and already got obvious botox lips. Its insane. Her mum for sure was a big influencing factor. She’s got botox lips for days. They both seem real pretentious. They jinker things around and stand there holding up the rest of the people to board while they wait for this old lady to leave, so that they can nab the seats with the most leg space. They are diagonally across the carriage from me, which, as creepy as it is, allows me to see what the old duck is typing on her phone.
She’s sending a message to someone which outlines how cramped up she is on this train, and how much she feels like she is in a hospital, because there are so many people coughing and sneezing around her. I’m thinking, “Go Time”.
I start coughing a little louder.
Sneezing a little more often.
She’s good at this game though. She’s not really showing any signs that my tactics are paying off. I loose interest sooner than I thought. She knows how to play this game too well.
I have been blogging for most of the day, but still I will find myself looking out the window, and I will find myself amazed at the scenery passing us by. I kinda like the train. Sure, it takes longer to get to places, but you definitely see parts of the countryside that you would not see otherwise. We’re passing behind old abandoned properties, one which was actually an old run down train station. Full size too. The platforms were overrun. The walls breaking down. People had tagged it, but it still retained it’s magic.
We were passing over the back of people’s properties and over lakes. You’d be engulfed in a view of snow-littered forest, to then be greeted by rolling rolls tossed with the green grass and snow ‘icing’.
We keep stopping intermittently to gather more guests and drop others off. There is this constant flow of people moving on and off the train. My polo-playing, harvard studying buddy has left now. But, in his place, we have been blessed with this African-American family, and the young bloke across the isle from me is play 2048, which I used to play and just started playing again.
I nudge Bec, “He’s playing 2048!”, she does this cool, “Yeah”.
I was expecting more.
I hit him up, “Whats your high score man?”
“Oh you play too?”
“Yeah man for sure”
“Oh nice… Nice…”
I cant remember how the convo died off, but I didn’t want to destroy his soul, cos my high score was 27k. Yeah.
We get off for customs, and he’s in the next line in front of me, and I’m not jamming 2048 right? He knows what is happening. I know he knows what is happening. “What’s your score bro?”
Do I assert my dominance or just play it cool right now?
Thats all I had to say. I let a smile creep across my face. He knows. I know. Literally every time I pass him for the remainder of the day, he’s play 2048. I never got to hear if he beat the score or not, but for that moment, we both knew that the fire of competition had just been ignited in the both of us.
Over the course of the train ride, the amenities slowly degrade.
We are only 2 rows back from where the carriages join, which is where the toilets are located. I have a clear view of what is happening in the world of the toilets. The toilet to the left is ratchet. Some fella just went troppo with the water and spilt water everywhere. I have no idea how. There is toilet paper on the ground. Water on the ground. Crap everywhere. Its nasty as hell.
Repeatedly, I see people open the sliding door. They will go to walk inside the cubicle. Stand there. Look at the floor, and then look over to the other toilet. You can see the internal dialogue going on in their minds. Its really just the same formula that everyone is using.
State of the toilet, minus the time remaining for the other toilet to become free, multiplied by the intensity of the need to use the toilet, divided by your level of dignity. The last factor is by far the thing that swings the person’s decision making process the most. Some people know that they have no dignity. They will open the door. Look to the floor, look across the the isle to the other door, which isn’t in use yet, but they are half in the doorway to the ratty toilet, so by their standards (or lack thereof), they accept the fate that destiny has dealt them, and into the dungeon of disaster, they commit themselves.
Its a fascinating thing to watch, and it kinda just becomes my hobby while on the trip. I’ll weigh up the person in my mind, and make an educated opinion as to what the person is going to do, as they are headed to the toilets.
It’s great fun.
We begin to get closer and closer to NYC. You can see the suburban landscape evolving, and soon enough, we begin to pass places that I am familiar with.
“Yonkers Station” comes across the intercom.
My first thought is Tyler, The Creator. For those with sensitive ears, I would recommend not enlightening yourself. Nonetheless, I am obligated to nab a photo. We disembark our train, and make our way out of the subway. We walk outside, and lo and behold, there it is. NYC in all its magnificent glory. I don’t know exactly where we are, but I know I have seen it on TV shows and movies.
The horns are blearing and sirens screaming. It is exactly what you expect, and exactly what you want to experience. NYC does not disappoint. We walk around the corner, down into the subway station to take us to our accommodation for the evening. We board, and there is this whole melting pot of people. This guy has a crisp 0-3 haircut, rocking a leather guess backpack, Armani shoes and a gold broach on his coat, meanwhile we are sitting opposite him with our backpacks. Between us is every kind of social class you can conjure up, all on the one carriage.
We get off at our stop, walk up the steps, and we are met with the iconic over-head railways system. The roads snake around the steel beams, supporting the structures overhead, and the people snake around the roads. One old bloke is doing his own thing, and the traffic is coming right at him, and he doesn’t give a single hoot.
He’s gotta be the king of NYC cos he owns this place.
We check in to our hostel across the road. Its a bloody good hostel. I am currently awake at 2:30 in a 6 person dorm. This British chick’s snore is more like a constant splatter of snot into the surrounding void of attempted sleep than a snore. Every now and then her body must gasp for a deeper breath, but forgetting that it is allowed to use her mouth, just turns her nose into a low-rumbling trumpet.
That is today.
I love NYC already.
Come Back Tomorrow,