(Posting by Ray)
Public transportation is like a soup recipe — you have to find the right amount of each ingredient to make it taste just right–Kind of like my commute. Here are my options:
— Walk to Tube Station (traversing relatively large bodies of water on the foot path); take two trains; walk to office
— Take Hopper (known as “hopping”) to Tube Station; take two trains; walk to office
— Take Hopper to Tube Station; take one train; walk loooonnggggg wayyyyy to office
— Take Hopper to Tube Station; take three trains; walk to office
— Walk or Hop (your choice) to Tube Station; take one of two different buses (your choice); take train; walk to office
— Take mini cab from house to Tube Station (approx $7.50);take two trains; walk to office
— Stay home or just stay at office
As you can see, I am still experimenting with the “right mix” to find my secret commuting sauce. The bus is a real trip, let me tell you. Imagine getting whipped around like on an amusement park ride, except really early before you’ve had your morning coffee. I haven’t mustered up the courage to actually “stand” on our Hopper bus while it makes it’s circuit through our neighborhood. Imagine hanging on tight, not strapped in mind you, while the local bus does about 50 mph down your neighborhood side streets with oncoming traffic on what amounts to pretty much a one lane road and you get a good visual of what I talking about.
People do their own thing on the train — you can read, eat, play with your iPhone, stare at your feet, or people watch. There are lots of interesting people to watch on the train and bus to go around for an eternity. Interestingly enough, no one talks to anyone no matter what the mode of transportation. Like “Omerta” to the Mafia, silence is the code of the commuter. Interestingly enough, a young fellow struck up a conversation with me on the train last week. Recognizing the “sweet spot” when I saw it, I quickly made my way to rear of the Tube car — near the window. It gets incredibly stuffy and hot on the train. Although to be near the only open window (and ventilation) on the train you must stand, it is a trade off worth making. Think real estate — even with the Underground, it is location, location, location that matters most. So much so that this fellow actually acknowledged my chess like maneuver to occupy the coveted spot at the rear of the car. I was proud of myself that through observation, I had at least mastered this small, yet coveted piece of the puzzle. “Got the best spot in the car” he said to me in a matter of fact tone. “Yep” I replied. He looked rather puzzled by my American accent, so I engaged him in friendly small talk. Upon departing, he had a big grin on his face. “I’ve taken this train for three years and this is the first time I’ve ever spoken to anyone. Usually when people talk to you on the train they are nutters.” Enough said.
Today, I actually had a conversation with a guy on the train about the “secret sauce” — he knew what I was talking about. He explained to me how he has a specific spot where he stands on the platform to catch the train every morning — this affords him the quickest route on/of to make his way to the escalators. Similar to billiards, “training it” is a highly competitive sport where you need to think tactically — set yourself up for your next shot. I sense that I am facing some serious competition out there. If you do manage to find those “sweet spots” on the platform, and the bus, and sense when to hop on/off at the right moment, you can shave what amounts to precious minutes off your commute. For me, I find that usually I do a swell job at closing my eyes on the Tube and every day and I come pretty close to totally missing my stop altogether — so much for competition.