Commuting Anxiety and Making New Friends, Keeping the Old

A Seemingly Civilized Metro North Commute

UPDATE: It’s Friday and still no snow day and it’s BAD OUT!  Had to come in for some meetings and there’s nobody here. Why oh why did I leave my warm apartment and pajamas?  Metro North was blissfully quiet.  Until we got stuck mid trip for 20 minutes. Some woman came on and despite the train being empty and that I was against the window in a 3 seater row, she came in right next to me. Like middle seat next to me.  WTF, Lady???  Deep breath. Heading to the pantry for some hot chocolate. Hope you’re doing the same.  Stay warm!

I was hunkering down for a bit of a snow dusting last evening, but alas, it never came.  Even brought home all of the work necessary for a “remote” work day today in case the trains were messed up (this is not an excuse, this has actually happened during NYC’s Hurricane Sandy and the Nemo Blizzard).  When I woke up this morning, I was bummed to see that there was no snow and I’d still need to commute.  Boo.  Our sweet puppy Wally also decided to have “the runs” last night.  Poor guy has a sensitive tummy and anything rawhide given to him immediately turns to liquid (gross, I know).  I took him out around 9 PM.  The Husband took him at 12:30 AM.  The Husband again at 3:30.  I got the 6 AM shift.  We’re all exhausted and in desperate need of a snow day but it was not to be.  Maybe we’ll get an early dismissal?

This past week, I have encountered several different types of commuter breeds.  This morning, there was a loud cougher with whom I had the privilege of sitting butt cheek to butt cheek.  A total stranger, whose germs became the air I breathed in and whose loud barking cough went off at intervals of 45 seconds.  This went on for over an hour making any sort of dozing off impossible.  Last night on my train ride home from work, I sat next to a somewhat elderly gentleman who was not so politely ripping these sharp, bugle sounding type farts in my direction.  At first I thought it was a noise from the train.  But then the train went silent and we all heard the fireworks.  No smell, thankfully, but we were all stuck there, bracing ourself for an impending aroma which was unavoidable.  The international cell phone tourist riders are high on the annoying list.  They have no clue how annoying it is for them to be having a high pitched conversation in a foreign language for 45 minutes at 7:15 in the morning.  Perhaps the most annoying of all are the wannabe cool mid-20 something male traders who work at hedge funds in Greenwich, Connecticut.  They enter and leave the train in packs and sit together on the evening commute with brown paper bags covering canned beers.  As if the 1 hour train ride is just too long for them to go without a drink and they think that nobody has any clue what they’re hiding in those brown paper bags. 

A sub-set, geekier variety of the Greenwich male trader crowd was particuarly annoying earlier this week on the evening commute back to New York City.  Three guys sat in an otherwise quiet train car, which they must have confused with a frat party.  One of them announced how South Park was the best show on television and started mimicking lines from the show.  The other two laughed like they had never heard anything so brilliantly executed in their life.  Only it wasn’t normal laughing, it was a trillish, deep throat guttural laugh that was trying too hard.  Believing himself to be marvelously comedic, the South Park fan continued repeating lines.  When finally the laughter stopped, he’d bring up a new episode and talked about how much he liked it and why and then go into lines from the episode.  Don’t get me wrong, I like South Park.  But I don’t need to hear the lines repeated in some desperate cry for attention from his colleagues.  If someone started repeating lines from The Bachelor, I’d be equally annoyed.  It was like listening to radio station that couldn’t be turned off.  Anyhow, the entire train car was ready to murder him.  I left my darn headphones at the office or I would have drowned them out.  I started to look for something in my purse that I could destroy my ear drums with.

This is all to say that if I wasn’t a lawyer, a blogger, a relationship therapist, a TV talk show host or a novelist (I’d like to be all of these things at some point in my life), I’d REALLY like to be a train monitor on Metro North during rush hour.  I would have no responsibility for collecting tickets or giving directions to places.  My sole job would be to shush the shit out of people who were being inconsiderate.  I’d herd the sick, the clueless, the smelly and the loud into their own train car to do whatever the hell they needed to do.  Nice, quiet, considerate passengers would be given incentive type prizes to encourage a “lead by example” approach. Maybe a gift certificate to Starbucks.  A scratch off lotto card. A discount to a Broadway show.  BTW, there is supposedly a “quiet car” in use during rush hour, but I’ve heard that there is really nobody enforcing it.  I’d enforce it.  I’d even demand the authority to kick people off the train if they get too rowdy. I’d probably need to hire a couple of body guards and wear a bullet proof vest as we’re talking about the New York City general population and every once in a while someone would get belligerent, but  this is a worthwhile endeavor regardless. Drinking and telling bad stories for cheap laughs would go in a separate car as well.  You don’t want to mix the “people with kids” toursts with the “Greenwich male traders who tell stories of their sexual exploits.”  People would salute me in Grand Central for my fine work. They’d thank me that their long commutes were a little more tolerable.  I’d be best known for making people who sleep across 3 seats on a crowded train get the hell up.  I’d also make that jerk, who decided to sit in the middle seat of a 3 seater just to prevent the likelihood of someone trying to sit next to him, move the hell over.   If people put bags on the seats next to them on a crowded train, I have the right to throw their stuff out the door.  And no saving seats. That’s only allowed in the movie theater or in 5th grade in the lunchroom. 

Despite all of my commuting anxiety, I did manage to grab dinner with some old college friends last night.  It was nice to catch up, though they were not impressed with my choice of California Pizza Kitchen as our dinner spot.  I’m not sure what the opposition was all about.  CPK happens to have wonderful salads and great pizzas to choose from.  If you split it with friends, it’s not really that unhealthy.  Not to mention that finding a place to have dinner for 4 in Manhattan for $55 is pretty much unheard of.  The comments ranged from, “What? Why are we going THERE?!” to “I feel like I’m in the suburbs at this place.”  Such urbanites.  Would any of you have been as excited as I was about going to CPK?  If so, can we be friends?

Speaking of friends, one of the reasons we did the animal assisted therapy training class with Wally was to make some new dog friends.  So many of our friends have left the city and we are trying to recruit some fresh blood.  There were a couple of candidates in our class and since last Saturday was the final class, I was under pressure to make something happen.  Luckily, the girl I was eyeing (so awkward this whole making new friends thing in your 30s) ended up asking ME for my phone number, saying we should stay in touch.  So we exchanged digits.  Now I’m wondering if I should contact her and if she’ll think I’m weird as she probably has 300 friends in the city that she can’t keep up with.  I don’t want to come on too strong :)  What do you think? How do you approach a new friendship with someone?

I’ll end this post by saying that I am super super super excited for Monday night’s Bachelor finale.  I have been loving all of your suggestions for a Bachelor Viewing Party.  Let me say that if you end up watching alone, with your significant other, with family or just a couple of friends – you are not alone.  I am throwing an international virtual Bachelor finale viewing party.  Which means that wherever you are, you are invited to join!  For our party, you’ll need to pick up the following: tiaras (for Tierra and her Little Miss Nevada Crown – thanks Tracy for the suggestion), sparklers (not sure where you get these, but you can wave something in the air that will suffice), your favorite perfume (so you can do the Tierra perfume dance in the mirror), some mussels (to represent Sean’s abs) and a big serving of your favorite ice cream because WHY NOT?  We’re all going to need to cool off after this season.

Til next time, please “Like” my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/OfficeStace and “Follow” me on Twitter http://twitter.com/OfficeStace).  Have a great day!

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Comments

  1. Just bought our tiaras & ice cream for me and my best friend. Have left over sprinklers from the 4th of July. Told Hubby he’ll have to buy my some more perfume before Monday . . . . . . I’m all set!

  2. Just wanted to say I LOVE CPK and I’m an Italian girl who knows good pizza. I had some pizza with chicken and artichokes last time I was there and WOW it was so good my husband was trying to get me to switch with him. He got some salad pizza which was delish too, but not nearly as good as mine. Next time you go, let me know and I’ll meet you! (I’m in NY–suburban…45 min out of NYC).

    • Krista – thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in my love of CPK and for being willing to meet me there. :) You’ve made me very happy. We should have a Bachelor CPK pizza party.

  3. Gee Stacey,
    I’d love to meet up at CPK for lunch with you, too, but I’m way too far away. *Shoots*—like Ashley Rosenbaum would say. Could you imagine inviting us (your readers) to all meet at CPK for lunch one day? THAT could be fun, or uh, maybe shocking.

    Your description on Commuting is *exactly* how it gets. It can be hell-ish—you’ve described it perfectly. Imagining you policing everyone just cracked me up! Great ideas.

    For the Finale, maybe you should do a live stream from your place. That would be so cool. We could watch the Bachelor, see you all watching AND hear your commentaries «live»! (woohoo)

    ICE CREAM being part of a virtual group viewing is soooo tempting. Maybe we should take a spoonful every time Sean says «crazy» or «amazing». Instead of getting tipsy, we’d all just end up getting fat and happy.

    Big surprise??? He gets back together with Emily?

    • Anon4 – too bad you’re too far for CPK. And as for live streaming – I’d love it if only I had the technology to do so. I’ll get The Husband on the case. Spoonful of ice cream if Seans says: “I don’t know who to choose,” “I’m crazy about these girls,” …keep going here…

  4. I’m an urbanite, too, with plenty of restaurants to choose from, but I also like CPK–I was there last weekend with friends! It works well for varied groupings–teenagers, vegetarians, people who like spicy things can all find something.

    Your Metro North stories are great! Sorry about Wally :-(

    I love the idea of an ice cream game for “amazing” and “I could see her as my wife,” and any mention of undefined “qualities.”

  5. Christine says:

    Commuting is awful and I give you a lot of credit to do commuting on the train every day. I think I would personally hurt someone if they did the stuff you wrote about everyday. Though I don’t take the train everyday, I drive from my house through a tunnel and on 95 to my school and I can’t stand when people don’t know how to use the ezpass lanes (just keep on driving don’t stop!) and when people drive so slow on 95.

    I am also super excited for the Bachelor as well. I love your idea for a viewing party. I need to get some ice cream as well to make it through the 3 hour episode.

    Um CPK is awesome! For some reason where I live in MD there are like 3 and they are not close to me :-( big bummer. I love their salads and pizzas. I also have some friends that complain and become super snobby on the places to eat and such. I am now craving CPK lol.

    • Christine – I just had to chime in and agree with you on the EZ Pass lane lameos! There’s a reason you drive through the unmanned lanes! Keep going people!

  6. Stacey I feel for you on your commute! I seriously do NOT know how you surivive that day in and day out! I freak out when someone stands too close to me in line at Starbucks, much less invades every inch of my personal space with their annoying stories, loud bodily functions and the like! Might I suggest that in addition to your other fantasies that you approach the offending persons and say…YOU! Off my planet! My boyfriend and I often joke that one day we will locate our own planet where regs for residency will be stiff and banishment will be at our discretion! You, the husband and Wally are welcome of course along with any and all Bach Fans!

    Can’t wait for Monday either…we have our menu planned, wine purchased and we now just need our tiarras and sparklers and we are all set! Looking forward to sharing the conclusion of this journey with you and all of the other fans :-)

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