What I have for you below is not one scenario, one experience... but a number of occurrences and observations which have all led me to the sneaking suspicion that the majority of the shirt-and-tie commuters I encounter on the tracks of NJ Transit are true drunkards... lushes... whatever you'd like to call them. Yes, they're the ones you see desperately flocking towards the stores within the hellish hallways of Penn Station trying oh, so hard to grab that cool, refreshing can of Bud Light (freedom) just mere minutes before their train departs. And yes, it appears they have good taste as well... (pause for sarcasm).
So, should you ever decide to ride the NJ Transit line -- or be forced to by the soul-crushing actuality that is the "real world" -- during afternoon commuting hours, chances are you'll see your fair share of transiting tipplers along your path, each with distinct differences proving that while they all have that sad commonality of truly "needing" that beer just as they pull away from the land that made them crazy in the first place -- because God forbid they wait until they get home -- there are certain differences within the community... subsets, if you will.
Allow me to explain with the below examples.
The "Save Me" Drinker:
Perhaps the saddest (yet most entertaining to watch) of the bunch. And trust me, they exist in hoards. The "Save Me" drinkers are the ones who seem all too tense up until the moment that can pops open and they get their first taste of liquidy-goodness. These are the guys who wait all day long for that sip... it drives them. Hell, they might even dream of it, I don't know. To them, the fizzing sound of that can opening is their savior calling them home; it's the sound of hope.
You may have seen them before. They rush to the seat, normally holding a briefcase, sweating from the hairline, and looking totally exhausted (and perhaps slightly overweight) as a result of apathy and the notion that things will always be as they are and change is unfeasible. And let's not forget that brown bag they're clenching onto.
And once the Save Me Drinker has snapped open that can of exhilaration, taking it in like they've not had a drink in days, it's finally time for him to rest... "Ahh..." Cue his relaxation.
Good night old boy. At least, until tomorrow...
The "Deserving" Drinker:
Not to be confused with the "Save Me" Drinker, this group seems to take a bit more pride in their habit... a bit. Again, all the normal signs of a Save Me drinker are at hand: the sweating, the tension, the one-size-too-big JC Penny suit; however, their differences lie within what occurs post-first-sip. Rather than finding some serious R&R you'll normally witness this group continuing their work on the train. That "Ahh" moment lasts for only a second because work still needs to be done. Perhaps it's a feeling of rebellion -- a way to fight the "man" (as much as I hate to say that, since they've already lost the true battle). Briefly put, the idea here seems to be drink while working. Congratulations... you've done it.
Yes, the Deserving Drinker is a true functioning alcoholic at best. Whether or not the Save Me Drinker is jealous or apathetic of this, I have yet to find out.
The "Nonchalant" Drinker:
This is perhaps the most frustrating of the bunch, at least in my opinion. Not so much because you feel sorry for them -- actually, you don't at all -- but more so for the fact that most of them hold a certain level of arrogance on their commute home. For example, that brown bag the other two subsets are courteous enough to hold is nonexistent here. These bastards seem to feel fully comfortable letting that beverage fly free during their ride home.
If I could explain the Nonchalant Drinker clearly, I would say to take the most ridiculous jock from high school or the frat kid from college and imagine them as an adult. Sure, they've matured in looks, tossing on a suit and slicking back that hair with a considerable amount of product, but down (not necessarily deep down) they're the same guy who performed the elephant walk to get into a group of friends...
So, should you find yourself holding the title of "commuter" -- much like myself -- then you've undoubtedly seen each one of these guys (I've never seen a female do this but I'm sure there are some). And if you haven't... well, chances are you are one. But at least with the help of the above categories, perhaps you can now decipher which sad, sad group you belong to...
And for the rest of you, I hope I've helped make your commute home a little more bearable... at least more entertaining.
For more by Kyle Dowling visit his site.