Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't Run to Catch the Train

Don't run to catch the train.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I take the train to work. And every morning, someone tests the Survival of the Fittest Theory and decides to race the train across the tracks. 

Those of us who care about our lives stand on the south side of the tracks where we board the train. We arrive on time, park our cars and walk across the tracks to the platform, looking both ways. We wait for the train and huddle near where the doors will open, hoping to get on first and get a good seat.

Then come the runners. Usually there is just one on any given morning. Often, before you can even see him, we hear the slapping of his feet on the hot pavement. Plop Plop Plop Plop. Then we see him, eyes wide, messenger bag swinging wildly around his body. He looks to the right where the train is fast approaching, and, apparently, this is when there is a breakdown in his instincts to survive.

Compare: Giant train. Small man. Fast train. Slow man. If there is a contest, who will win? And yet, he runs to cross the tracks. This is no Kenyan sprinter we're talking about here. This is probably an IT guy or system administrator. The only other time he runs is to get to the Apple Store when the new iPhone comes out.

And just before the runner darts across the tracks as the train barrels east with a "Ding Ding Ding," the conductor sees his toe about to cross the plane into the crossing, he sounds on the horn. To say this is a rude awakening at 7:16 in the morning would be a severe understatement. The sound is so startling, I nearly throw my coffee into the air out of fright. It is so loud, I think I lose 15% of my hearing each time. The other commuters and I look at each other and cover our ears. My heart is pounding. "OK, I'm awake now. Who needs caffeine when you can have panic?"

Why do these runners risk their lives to arrive 20 minutes earlier to work? I think most of us would LOVE to be late to work. I'd certainly rather be late than dead.

Maybe these people have been late too many times. Maybe they love thrill of a race. I am merely speculating, but I would really wish they would exercise a little consideration or common sense.