Archives for posts with tag: Tri-Met

A few years ago, a much younger version of me was heading home from work, it was late, a hot evening, and… the train seemed to be late. The later it got, the more anxious and agitated I was becoming. There was already so little time. The more stressed out I became, the more bothered I was by even the slightest restless movement of other aggravated commuters – and the longer we waited, the more of us there were. Frustrated clueless conversation reached me from various pairings of “been waiting” and “just got here” commuters; that was making me angry, too. “Just stand still and wait!” I snarled quietly under my breath. In fact… I had, at one point, gotten to the “teeth-grinding and sub-vocalization” level of stress and pure, distilled frustration. I wanted to rip my damned heart out of my chest to stop the pounding.

…I just wanted to go home. That’s all.

Yesterday morning, on the way in to the office, I observed that there was a rail interruption for construction, and a shuttle-bus detour provided, on my usual route to work. I didn’t think much about it. It did add some minutes to my commute, but at 5:30 am, that’s not exactly noteworthy – and there are no crowds, just stoic sleepy-eyed commuters quietly heading to work on auto-pilot.

After a very busy, very weird, day in the office, I headed for home quite a bit later than usual – or planned – and made my way to the train platform. I didn’t see anything much to be concerned with, and I wasn’t troubled by the awareness of that bit of construction… I mean… they were probably done? Or… maybe I forgot? It wasn’t on my mind, is what I’m saying, even after I saw the sign.

Oh. Huh. Well… I guess that’s a pretty big project.

Pre-occupied with my own thoughts, I got on the train, and promptly forgot about the construction. Some few minutes later, the train stops. I look around puzzled and realize I’m at the last stop; the detour. Time to grab a shuttle bus… wait… where are the buses? I see a lot of passengers milling around waiting. Hell, the transit company is giving away free shave ice to the passengers waiting in the heat (almost 90 degrees F, a bit more than 32 C). No shade anywhere. It’s hot, and people are cross about waiting. An absolute raging douchebag pushes past a substantial queue of passengers growling “where do we get on the shuttle? where do we get on the shuttle?” squeezing past people with strollers, elders on walkers, and women in burqa’s to get to the front of the line. So rude. I’m irked, but… I breathe, and let that go.

We wait, and wait longer. I see transit employees on walkie-talkies beefing about the delay with the buses. I can see that traffic patterns have been interrupted to accommodate shuttle buses, there are cones, barriers, and signs everywhere, and frustrated workers in oranges vests – and more walkie-talkies. A bus arrives, after a time, and we all crowd on it. Finally. It won’t be long now. I’m almost merry – I’m at least content. I’m heading home.

So… about that.

Quite a crowd, waiting for a train, on a very hot day.

I ease myself past groups of strangers. I notice that even considering the construction, it seems odd that the platform is so crowded. It looks like more than one train’s worth of passengers. I overhear someone complain that they have already been waiting 20 minutes. I keep walking, to the far end; it looks less crowded.

10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes later… no train. More shuttle buses have continued to arrive. There are easily 200+ people waiting on the platform, crowded together, fussy, irritable, frustrated with waiting, growing more and more impatient, and potential for conflict increases. Giving the matter some thought, I realize I will not even want to try to crowd onto the first train that eventually arrives… maybe take an Uber, or… a bus? I make my way to a shady spot at the edge of the park alongside the platform. I exchange expectation-setting messages with my Traveling Partner. I hit my vape a couple times. I drink some water.

Well…so… the traffic around the construction is such a snarl, and being peak rush hour on top of that, and Uber was going to cost me dearly (on this whole other unreasonable level), so that was out. The estimated time for the closest bus I could walk to that would take me more or less directly to where my car was parked was a bit of a walk, followed by a bit of a wait, and then quite a long ride… the train would be faster, when it got here… So. I waited.

The crowd was sufficiently large that getting them in one shot from eye level was difficult.

More people accumulated on the platform, until it was clearly no longer safe for more, and they spilled onto the track that was not in service, and on into the edge of the park, where I was seated in the shade, at the edge of the piled up human stress-puppets, all waiting for the train. Still no train.

By the time the next train arrived, there were easily 300 commuters waiting for it. Trust me, they don’t hold that many. No way I was going to take that train. Maybe not the one after it, either. I watch people push on, crowding each other. I sat back, away from all that, having a vape, and watching the afternoon sunshine slowly turning golden as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. That train left so crammed with human beings, they were literally pressed against the doors and standing two abreast in the aisles as it pulled away. No thank you. The next train looked much the same, but as it left, there was actually room on the platform to stand and wait for the next, which came in just 5 minutes.

(As it turned out later, in addition to the construction snarl, a transit employee confirmed that there was the additional hassle of someone having thrown a shopping cart in front of a moving train, further east on the westbound line, resulting in the transit company having to remove that train from service, and clear the track – and backing up trains rather a lot, creating the fairly horrible delay I’d found myself caught up in.)

I got on the train, no pushing, no snarling, no frustration, and took a seat. All the seats ended up full, and a handful of folks standing – that’s what the train generally looks like in the evening, as I head home. People were a bit more tense and aggravated than usual, and there was a crying baby (the shrieking “I’m fucking pissed and you just don’t get it” crying of a confused, discontented, uncomfortable, too hot in the summertime, baby who has no will to be consoled). At one point, the entire train had to be stopped over … drama and bullshit. Tempers flared over priority seating for disabled passengers; a seated disabled woman with a child in a stroller refused to yield her seat to a woman insisting she was “more disabled”, rail-thin, appearing intoxicated, pushing a wheeled shopping basket. All hell broke loose when rail-thin woman touched the seated woman’s baby, as if to move the child out of her way. People were yelling. I was more than a little surprised it didn’t break out into a proper brawl. Other passengers got involved. Eventually the driver call-button was pushed. That’s when the train was stopped, and held, at the platform, while the driver intervened. The rail-thin woman was ejected from the train by the driver, firmly, although he did point out (and truthfully) that another train followed closely behind his. We continued our journey. The baby commenced to crying again.

At each stop, a few more passengers disembarked. It got quieter. The train reached my station, and I got in my car, and went home (by way of the grocery store, for salad ingredients for a dinner that we didn’t have, because it was late, and we were neither of us very hungry). I enjoyed a pleasant evening with my partner.

So… simple. So… easy. No freak out? Nope. No tantrum? Nope. No snarling at other people impatiently because… “omg, what the fuck??” Nope. I was pretty chill the whole time – in spite of the heat. (lol) It’s summertime, and that means construction, and construction delays, and… well… I don’t know. I’m fine. It wasn’t a big deal.

Who is this woman I have become over time? She’s pretty patient about construction delays, cranky passengers on crowded trains, shrieking babies, and douchebags who line-jump crowds on hot days. I like that about me… I sip my coffee and wonder when I became this woman, and what did I practice that got me here? Did the meditation get me here? The reflection and perspective-seeking? The savoring small pleasant moments and building emotional resilience over time? The creation of, and existence within, a calm and generally contented environment at home? I’m not perfect; I’m surprised. I fully expect that some time in the future I’ll lose my shit over something dumb (I have priors)… but… last night? Last night wasn’t that time. 😀

This morning? Pretty nice morning. My coffee is just okay, but it’s still coffee, and I’m grateful. I load up the dishwasher, and set it for a delayed start to avoid waking my partner (who I think I already woke with my bumbling around half-awake after the alarm jerked me from dreams of love and contentment). I consider the commute ahead of me. Maybe I’ll drive in. LOL I smile to myself; a good start to the day. I look at the clock… definitely time to begin again. 😀

It’s been an interesting (strange) weekend so far. I rarely spend my weekend in an utterly spontaneous unscripted way. I nearly always have a plan…and a ‘plan B’, in case the plan falls apart because of circumstances, or someone else’s rampant spontaneity. This weekend, I had made loose plans, weeks in advance, that after being sick all week either no longer interested me, or for which I am frankly not quite well enough for the required level of exertion. So. I unplanned my weekend, moved things on my calendar, and made the choice to go ‘unscripted’. It’s been very relaxed, and I’ve enjoyed that. It’s also been exceedingly unorganized, which is somewhat discomfiting, and I feel less than ideally ‘productive’ – but my productivity isn’t being measured on my leisure time by anyone but me, so letting that go also lands on my ‘to do list’.

Yesterday, I decided to head out to the local aquarium store I favor, considering buying a couple of fish. It sounded like a nice outing. It was a lovely day. I enjoyed the walk to the light rail station and the ride downtown was fine…except…it was crowded and people were noisy. I quickly felt more than a little overwhelmed, and realized I was also particularly ‘noise sensitive’. My idea about going to the fish had completely lost its appeal by the time the train reached the downtown station – a midway point in the trip. I thought perhaps my blood sugar was low, and couldn’t recall if I’d had a bite of breakfast (no plan, remember?). I hopped off the train, hopeful that appropriate calories would put me right.

I was wrong. I mean – having breakfast was a good choice, no mistake there, but it didn’t improve my immediate experience of the moment. I dithered briefly, downtown, walking from the eastbound platform, to the westbound platform, and back – a couple of times. The fish no longer seemed a reasonable purchase, my journey felt more uncomfortable than pleasant, and really… I just wanted to go home.  I took advantage of my adult status to simply choose my course, based on my needs, and headed west, toward home, toward quiet, and toward the unknown. No plan.

I have a frontal lobe brain injury. I also have some impulse control issues as a result. Sometimes that’s been a characteristic I can easily identify as a limitation, or a handicap, but yesterday it was simply a characteristic. I unexpectedly decided to hop off the train at the Washington Park station, underground in the Robertson Tunnel, and take the opportunity to enjoy a sunny day at the zoo.  As with much of the day, it was an odd choice; it was midday, it was hot and sunny, it was a weekend and the zoo was crowded with children and families, and the zoo is currently undergoing a significant make over and there is a lot of construction. Spontaneity. No plan.

The map is not the journey...the plan is not the experience.

The map is not the journey…the plan is not the experience.

It was an excellent way to get in a 3-mile walk. I got some interesting pictures, and overheard some strangely amusing bits of conversation out of context. I was inspired by the engaged eagerness of bright children. I was startled and confused by a woman in very very tall stiletto heels; it was an odd footwear choice for the terrain. I was puzzled by the number of young girls dressed more for a night club than a longish walk, and wondered who they thought might be at the zoo that they needed to put themselves on display? I saw some animals; it is, after all, the zoo. In the midday heat, though, most of the animals were crashed out or out of view, and most of the entertainment was in the more easily observable human primates all around me.

Each having their own experience...

Each having their own experience…

...some, primates in cages...

…some, primates in cages…

...some 'free range' primates.

…some ‘free range’ primates.

There were non-primates, too, of course…

Some, exotic, and out of their element...

Some, exotic, and out of their element…

...an other creatures, more familiar, no less wondrous.

…an other creatures, more familiar, no less wondrous.

And wonders that weren’t about the habitats of beings as much as the journeys they take.

Inside the Robertson Tunnel, hearing the train approaching.

Inside the Robertson Tunnel, hearing the train approaching.

I was glad to get home, when I did. I enjoyed a cold brew, a rare treat, and followed with cold water, and many moments of rapt appreciation that plentiful safe drinking water of good quality is so easily available for me. I stood at the window of my suburban home and felt a deep gratitude for my good quality of life, when for so many just a roof, or a moment of calm, or a glass of potable water are luxuries. The feeling of contentment, and gratitude continued through my shower, my yoga, my evening meal, my evening… if for no other reason, the day leading to these moments was so worth it!

Today is similarly unscripted. There’s always the local farmer’s market…or the garden…or the art museum…the Saturday Market (which is also open on Sunday)…I could re-attempt my trip to the aquarium shop, but suspect the same arguments against it would find their way with me, too. Yoga, shopping, the county fair…it is a wide open world of places, and events, and people. I still find value in planning. The unlimited vast expanse of choices and opportunities finds me stalled and uncertain – at least for now, as I write, and sip my morning coffee.

I haven’t yet learned all I can from this unscripted weekend. There is more to do. Certainly there are even mundane everyday chores to account for – which I only now remembered! I find myself resisting the impulse to make ‘just a small plan…’. There is always this and more to contemplate, to cherish, to savor; I am having my own experience.

The sufficiency of one moment of real presence.

There is sufficiency in one moment of real presence.

Today is a good day to be present and engaged with my experience. Today is a good day to enjoy the moment. Today is a good day for smiles and acceptance. Today is a good day to be gentle with myself. Today is a good day to change the world.