Suck It Up
It was a phrase that I HATED when I was on line. (no… not surfing the internet. when i pledged.) My big sisters, when I was faced with an unbearable or daunting task that under other circumstances I would walk away from or choose not to experience, they would grab me firmly by… something… shoulders, arm, whatever they could get a hold of… look me right in the eye and say, “SUCK IT UP, NUMBER 4!!” And there was nothing I could do. I had to ball up all the emotion I was feeling, stick it in the pit of my stomach and deal with the task at hand. One of our “tools” was to bring our tasks to a successful completion. So I couldn’t even turn an eye to what I had pushed aside till what it was I had to go through was done. Many days I thank God for what I learned in that process. It gave me a virtually impervious will. Today was one of those days.
After many days of floundering about “WE’LL STRIKE!!” “NO, NOT YET!!” “OKAY… JUST A FEW BUS LINES TODAY…” the TWU finally shut down MTA service on the subways and buslines. This is the equivalent of telling about 7 million New Yorkers … “look we want you to eat this sandwich and shit it out… but you can’t use your esophagus, stomach or small intestines… okay… GO!” I got the news via txt message at 5:30 AM from my co-worker. Got up about 6… got cleaned and dressed and knew the day that was ahead of me.
1) A 30 block walk from my home to the Woodside Station of the Long Island Railroad
2) A possible wait to buy tickets
3) A 10 minute train ride into Penn station
4) A 30 block walk from Penn station to my job.
I thought about it… I could really just… not go in. And considering all the stuff going on in here, it wasn’t an option. In my head I heard it. Suck it up, Number 4. I put on a few layers of clothing and hot footed it out of the house. The first 15 blocks were fire on my thighs, but the cold weather helped to stave off any real burn. Then I eased into the next 15 blocks. Got to the LIRR. Spied a line that wrapped around 4 sides of a block not once… but twice. I was told this was the line to purchase tickets and you HAD to have a ticket to get on the PLATFORM (never mind the train) and that they were NOT selling them on the train. I got on the line and shuffled around the block twice… for 2 hours.
Now… I’ve mentioned in the past that I like the cold weather. I have conditions to this now: 1) I have to be warmly clad; 2) I MUST be mobile. NO standing still 3) I can’t be in line with a bunch of assholes. I only fulfilled one of these requirements this morning. I dressed warmily… but it would mean nothing soon… because all the standing still would make my wardrobe give in to the harsh weather… which it did after hour 1. I never apprecieated the warming effects of the sun as much as I did today… becuase it was NOT made in the shade. Then I had someone behind me that must watched the channel that told him in order to be considered on line, you must be in the cervix (or scrotum) of the person ahead of you… or you will forfeit your place in line. And thusly… everytime I moved… there he was. I elbowed him a few times, but I think he didn’t get the hint. I even elbowed his girlfriend a few times thinking she could pass the message to him for me. No luck. So with cervix-boy and a serious frostbite developping in all my toes I finally made it to the booth… where an LIRR guy came over and said “I need 30 people to come upstairs and get tickets)… so I went… wait… I RAN and realized that after being in the bitter cold for 2 hours, my muscles were FROZEN. Suck it up…
I got to the top of the stairs and moved to the line for the machines (others opted for the line with a human dispensing the tickets). While waiting on the line for all of 5 minutes, I hear one of the cops in the corner say “Train to Penn Station on track three pulling in … you can buy your tickets on the train…” WHAT? No time… I ran down the stairs and got in the least crowded car I could find. The warmth was so welcome to me. I stood there just letting it be warm around me for a few minutes before I even acknowledged my surroundings. I mean… my teeth were chattering, folks.
(more later) ( i know i’ve said it before… i do mean it…)
Okay… here I am… back (like I promised)
Okay… so teeth chattering. I finally warm up enough to take inventory of the space around me… to find that … I wasn’t on a PACKED train car. Pretty much everyone had a seat. One asshole (a brother, of course) had to be playing his cellphone game with the sound turned up extra high so that EEEEEVERYONE could hear. I think I still hear the stupid jingle in my head. I looked at the silver holders on the top of every chair where the conductor usually sticks a chit that is indicative of where the person in that seat is going. No chits. I asked someone seated. “How long have you been on this train?” She responded, “Since Long Beach.” “Has the conductor come through at all?” “No,” she responded, “they punched our tickets before we got on the train.” Mooooooother fuuuuckers. So I never needed to get a ticket at all… I didn’t even have to wait 2 hours. The train zipped through the underpasses and tunnels and in 10 minutes I was pouring out of Penn Station with my fellow New Yorkers. I got up to 33rd and 8th, got a good sense of my bearings and walked to (effectively) 3rd street. Calling my co-worker along the way, and informed me that my boss was looking for me…. “REALLY???” I said in disbelief. Cause I couldn’t imagine that anyone’s boss was seeking them out at any decent hour in this day and age. Plus I left (or thought I did — I dialed the wrong extension) her a message letting her know that I was amidst the craziness and didn’t really know when it would end.
Along the quiet walk downtown, I realized I hadn’t eaten since yesterday and my body was good and done with whatever that was… my stomach started to rumble. I know they just opened the Dunkin Donuts downstairs and I could get a hot croissant or bagel and some warm coffee to heat me up when i got in. Finally got to the DD and walked in to a sign on the cash register that read:
“Due to the strike, we were unable to get our donut / baked goods delivery. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are serving coffee and beverages. Thank you for bering with us during this time.”
The rest of the day was pretty alright. Quiet. Productive. I just want the strike to be over. I’m rooting for the Transit Workers (not necessarily the UNION, but the workers) and their plight over big business and their ability to cook books and hoard money. And I’ll suck it up for now…
but damnit all to hell… I miss taking a train to where I need to be. *sigh*