Growing Up Breda
On the Metro home last night, I offered up a prayer of thanks to the dark commuting gods because I scored an empty seat and a fairly empty car. But the commuting gods are fickle. I got the crazy car.
Nothing bad or particularly exciting happened. The crazy came in the form of a 350 pound woman who talked really loud. Like, Marine drill instructor loud, but just as a normal conversation voice to some poor, ugly girl sitting across the aisle from her. I gathered that they were co-workers.
Once I adjusted to the volume enough to make out words, I couldn’t help but follow the conversation. Along with everyone else on the train. Turns out Large Marge is something of a trainspotter. She described, at length, her Metro spreadsheet, where she’s recorded every car number that she’s ridden in, along with various notes on the condition of the car. She’s been keeping this spreadsheet for a decade and ran through all the different types of cars, and what the numbers stood for. I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that, as the train slowly rumbled towards Silver Spring, I became fascinated. There aren’t any deep secrets to the car numbers. The information she was screaming is all over the net, but her wistful review of the spreadsheet added that certain dash of love (or touch of lunacy) got me thinking about my own Metro experiences. I’ve been riding the system since birth. Like crazy spreadsheet lady, I’ve watched the cars “grow up.” She actually started getting a bit tearful when she used those words. “I’ve seen my little Breda’s grow up.” Sniff-sniff.
Even her co-worker looked uncomfortable at that point. But I almost joined in on the conversation, because the letters after the numbers were demystified. You often see an “A,” “C,” or both after the car numbers, which (I now know) indicate various points when the cars were refurbished. (Because the Metro thinks it can save money by constantly changing the upholstery of 30 year old unsafe cars riding on 40 year old lowest bidder tracks.)
Her spreadsheet (she was asked by a guy sitting three seats back) does not record any derailments, unexplained fires, or the seemingly ubiquitous “sick passenger” and “police situation” delays. Many folks around me agreed, regarding the latter cases, that they never happen. The Metro just constantly announces those causes for the delay when, in reality, the driver was snorting cocaine off of the handicapped seats. Well, that’s what I said, and people stopped talking after that.
My morning commute today was, as usual, unexciting, till I got to the elevator. As a rule, I take the freight elevator to avoid the people, but that option was off the board today so I rode with the commoners in the normal elevators. Every year, my company has a big ass convention, and the building empties out. All the important people go to the convention, while all of us fuckshits get to stay behind and make rubber band balls and (as I did last year) have Death Race 2000 badminton matches out in the cubical mazes. (My bonus, two years ago, came in the form of a children’s badminton set.)
This year, my plan is to continue what I’ve been doing for the last half year – watching shit on CBS.com – because I’ve decided to never work again. Though, for the next few days, I’ll be able to do that with fewer phone calls and not as many whining co-workers creeping around trying to figure out what I’m doing.
So, the elevator. Two women get on, and I hunker into a corner with my sunglasses and try to make myself vanish. They’re talking along much the same lines as I’m thinking – thank god it’s convention time. No bosses, no co-workers. One of the ladies fist pumps the air and cheers. She turns so that she’s talking both to me and to her companion and says:
“I’m going to sit down, pop some popcorn, watch some movies, then talk on the phone and fart at my desk. All before lunch!”
Her companion backed away, and we had a floor of silence before I could escape.
I guess, in the end, I don’t really mind going to work. I just wish there was a massive depopulating event. I’d say that I wish I was the last living person, but I know that’s unrealistic. So roll on that old suitcase nuke and wipe out a third of the population. That’s all I ask. One third. And let me choose which ones.
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