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The Commuter Life: 'The Call That Saved My Day'

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Simply put, the daily trek from New Jersey to New York City blows... no matter what part of the Garden State you call home. As a weekday commuter you must be willing to give up your comfort, your sanity, and perhaps portions of your soul to travel across the Hudson into the city that never sleeps...or bathes...or shuts the hell up. But naturally, it's worth it because we all love our "well-paying, self-fulfilling" jobs. Right?

Having said that, the venture over the river does offer certain perks, especially for a writer looking for some inspiration and an audience. You see, having recently received the gracious blessing of a day job, I now travel to New York City daily from my home in Montclair, and along my path I've found material that could fill a Tolstoy-sized novel, one littered with characters whom some might call ... let's say "interesting," to spare some feelings.

So, because these people, these occurrences, are too good to keep to myself, it is my pleasure (and duty as a storyteller) to share them with you all here...


"The Call That Saved My Day"

The day was rather dismal. I was in a new job I found uncomfortable, on a commute I found uncomfortable, sitting too close to people I for some reason found uncomfortable to be around; however, the unfortunate truth was that I needed the money. Funny enough, even that seemed to be missing amid the "impressive salary and benefits package" offered by my company. Regardless, it was the end of the day so I was looking upward and forward to a night of writing, playing guitar, and dinner with my lady.

The train had left the hellish land of New York Penn and just pulled up to Newark Broad St. On came the herd of people holding similar faces of glee that the workday was over and the heavily yenned Friday was nearing. We're almost free, was laid upon each of their faces. But there were two more days keeping us from relief.

She came on just as I was reading some Palahniuk. Like a super hero in a bright leotard with an attached cape, this nameless face sat next to me, seeming quite normal aside from singing "It's All About the Benjamins." I still can't decide if I loved that or hated it. Anyway, I noticed a tattoo along her right forearm, the very place I was considering one for myself. Perhaps start some conversation, I thought. Ask some questions, gain some advice, etc. Luckily, I kept my mouth shut because as the train pulled away her phone rang and my day got interesting.

The first thing I noticed was the caller ID. It appeared "My C*** Sister" was calling. Excuse the vulgarity but you need to understand the full impact of what I went through. As she was speaking to the "C*** Sister" I seemed to earn a Ph.D. in: 1) this person's life and 2) how not to act on public transportation. Though I believe the latter of which I already had, seeing as I hold a considerable amount of common sense. To my advantage (and yours), she didn't.

I was sitting next to her for a mere ten minutes, and in that time I was able to learn all about her life, the details. You know, things like:

• Her friend had a horrid case of genital herpes.
• She can't even call her bitch of a girlfriend because the girl didn't pay her phone bill.
• Tom refuses to give her a job, to which she replied, "Fuck you, give me one!" BUT, she continued, everyone knows people are up Tom's ass.
• She wanted to go to the beach over the weekend.
• She loses 10lbs when she goes home because "she don't eat shit."
• She's in the mood to get drunk!

And as quickly as it began, it ended. The train pulled up to the Watsessing station and she was off. Ten minutes, that was the length of my education, my show. I didn't quite catch her name during our ride but I kind of like that.

Who knows, maybe commuting isn't so bad...

For more by Kyle Dowling, visit his site.