I thought I’d share with you all a crazy commute I had the other day. When you’re blind, the path of least resistance is to plan, plan, plan…especially when it comes from getting from point A to point B… and then keep to the plan. One hitch in the plan and life becomes confusing. But, life likes to throw wrenches in the best laid plans of men (and women).
My team at work was scheduled to make a presentation at our staff meeting, 9 am sharp. Knowing this, and contemplating how I sometimes run behind, I left my house extra early, so as not to risk being even a minute late. I walked to my normal place on the platform, happy to see the train coming soon after. I’m really going to be on time here!
My first train pulled up to my transfer station, and I got off, noting an excessive amount of people trying to get on the train. I walked across the platform and noticed that no one was getting on the other train…maybe they are already on there? As I stood there wondering, a woman came up to me and informed me that “they are making everyone get back on the other train.” I turned around to find the doors closing and the train pulling out. Argh. So much for that train. Now, I’ll be basically on time. That’s okay…that’s why I left early.
While I waited on the platform, I heard a garbled voice over the intercom saying something about a broken rail and no Q trains into Manhattan. I wondered if that would affect my own train, but since they didn’t say anything about it, I decided to wait to hear what the conductor in the next train would say. The next train pulled in, and I got on to try to transfer to my train into Manhattan at the next available station, pending the conductor didn’t mention a problem. And, they didn’t. When we pulled into the next transfer station other people were getting off, so I did too, and the second train I was on pulled away. As I stood there, an express train pulled in on the local tracks, and the conductor informed us that none of my usual trains were going into the city, and so now I was faced with two large transfers on my commute to work.
If a large terminal is confusing enough to a person with good vision, imagine how it would be to someone who lacks sight. Full of wide terminals and staircases going every which way…I avoid those stations like the plague. I stood on this third train, snaking along at a snail’s pace and planned out my route. There was no way I was making it to work on time now. This sucks. The one day I couldn’t be late.
The train pulled into Atlantic Terminal, my first huge transfer. Luckily, I knew this station pretty well, as Adam and I frequent it. I got off the train with the hoards of other people rushing to catch an alternate train and make it into work. Although I was going crazy on the inside, I knew I had to snake along at a snail’s pace like the train I was just on. I slowly made my way to where I thought the appropriate stairs would be, running into people all along the way. Suddenly, a woman came to my rescue. She asked where I was headed, took my arm, and walked with me toward the stairs. I’ve had to deflate my personal bubble long ago, due to having to hold people’s arms, running into folks, and dealing with random strangers grabbing me to lead me somewhere…even if I say I’m fine and don’t need help. Today, this woman was an angel. I was so relieved to have the assistance. As we walked up the stairs, she introduced herself, and lo and behold, we share the same first name. How funny. Interestingly enough, I was able to assist the other Rebekah in a small way myself. She was looking for the 1 train, which doesn’t run to Atlantic Terminal, but I was able to send her to the 2 and 3 trains which will transfer to the 1 at a later point. That was kind of cool, but I digress.
Rebekah got me to the bottom of the stairs of the next train I was to take, and I got on my fourth train for the day. First crazy transfer complete, now off to Grand Central Terminal…which I am not as familiar with.
I held the bar on the crowded train, again trying to plot my route. I couldn’t remember the route to the final train I needed. There was no way around it, I was going to have to flag someone down and ask the way. I’ve also had to deflate my pride long ago, due to actually needing help more often than I’d like to admit. The train pulled in, and I hopped off, arbitrarily choosing a direction to walk in.
Then another angel appeared. She asked if I was heading upstairs. In reply, I asked if she knew which way to the train I was looking for. It was in the opposite direction, and down the stairs. Good thing I asked her. Not only that, but she was taking the same train I was, so She walked with me to the next platform!
The train pulled in and I got on. The insanity was almost over. As soon as I got cell reception I texted my supervisor to let him know I was on my way, and that the commute was crazy. Now all I had to do was get to work. But what if the train drops me off in a different location on the platform than I am used to? Funny how you have to think of such small things when you can’t see. I’ve actually gotten lost on that very platform when I was just starting my job. Oh, well. If I could handle this morning’s commute, I can handle a silly platform. I got off the train, and had no problems getting the rest of the way to work. Once inside, I could’ve cried as the build up tension in my mind and body began to fade. Not only that, but it didn’t end up being a big deal that I was late, as the others seemed to understand my tardiness.
I took a few things away from this situation. For one, I realize I’m becoming bolder in the unfamiliar. This situation would’ve mortified me a few months ago, and it still kind of did, but I find myself being more ready to stand out in the crowd if it gets me where I need to be. Secondly, it is really comforting to know that even in the extreme hustle of the city; there are plenty of good people out there ready to help their fellow man. If you’re one of those people, don’t stop. Maybe it’s embarrassing and a bit uncomfortable, but what a blessing a simple act can be! Okay, I’ll stop being mushy now.