Tag Archives: transportation

Union Station Fridays

Late September heat, and they look uncomfortable in Fall fashions
At the train stop in the suburbs of Chicago with the first leaves fallen
The kids are hyped and the confrontations hot in the quiet car
We move from the white suburbs to the black neighborhoods to the Circle and Union Station on Friday morning
We shuffle off the train onto the narrow platform
The girls with their yoga mats and city bags, the guys in suits and ties
Old guys who’ve done this for longer than I’ve been alive
and ladies of a different class trading lies and anecdotes like recipes
The diesel fumes ravage the colognes and perfumes worn
And the roar of the “Screaming Thunderbox,” the F40PH2
fills the cavernous bowels of the station’s south side
We run headlong into a people jam trying to get through double glass doors
For the city and the towers and the coffee shops
We emerge like summer’s cicadas into broad daylight
Up escalators and stairs to the world above
Union Station on Fridays, Thursdays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Mondays

A poem
By
Tim Akimoff

A commuting poem: The train is always late

image

The train pulls toward the station and you stand, claiming your place in the line of the first to exit

The train empties like a torn serpent, its entrails pouring from a series of wounds

The flood of people starts as a trickle and becomes a rush as they jockey for a forward position

Free of the train, walking fast, moving with a single thought of gaining the doors to escape the bowels of the station

But really we’re just late for work

The lady in front of you walks with a cane, and she’s hobbling fast, as if she’s being chased

And she is

You try to pass her, and like cars on a freeway, so does everyone else

And as the flow of the train’s entrails empties onto the platform, the wriggling mass spreads outward and forward like blood toward a drain

And we fight for position until we are slowed and blocked and then we groan and complain about the lateness of the hour

The congestion of the sliding doors is an equalizer, putting you back in sync with those who lined up early

And in our mad rush or a deliberate wait, we all exit the station at the same time, spreading out into the city like fire

Breathing finally and texting our superiors and subordinates as if this is something rare and altogether strange

To wake tomorrow and do it all again

NYC 1: First Impressions –

New York is a lot of what I expected after getting to know it the past 30-some years on television, word-of-mouth and general reputation as America’s largest city.

I walked a good bit of yesterday, flew over it and cabbed through it.

Vistas are a nice way to gain perspective on a places’ general look and feel. You have to experience a place to really get to know it.

This is not one of those kinds of trips.

The first big difference that I noted was the grittiness of New York. Just walk around TriBeCa, and you’ll notice a lot of grime and stains on things. At first I couldn’t tell if it was just the city recovering from the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, after all, much of the street-level stuff was under water from the storm surge, or if it was just an old city being an old city.

Turns out it’s a little of both. Chicago is definitely a much cleaner city. New York feels old and gritty and built up on top of its even older self.

The walls of buildings don’t glisten and shine or reflect as much as they whisper old things. One feels they need to get close to hear them or to read the illegible writing you feel must surely be there.

New York is a bustling place. When I hear the word bustling, this is forever what I’ll think of. Everything is fast-paced here. When you step out onto a sidewalk, it’s as if you are turning into traffic. Slow down, stop or make sudden turns, and you’ll get the bird or a good tongue lashing.

The subway trains are filled with busy people. The streets have beggars and construction people who yell a lot. Traffic police are everywhere, the sounds of whistles shrill and constant.

Even in the late evening on a Thursday, there is a tempo that is unlike other places I’ve visited.

These are just first impressions based on what I saw in a 24-hour period. Some of it is based on what you see and feel, more of it, I fear, is based on what I’ve always thought about New York.

Nothing counts until you experience it.

I spent the evening chatting with an old friend who works at the Wall Street Journal. We talked politics, news and living in Brooklyn.

I asked him if the adage is true: “Live in New York, but leave before it makes you hard.”

He sort of shrugged it off. And I don’t blame him.

If there is a hardness in New York, it’s in the water or the way in which the city seems to live atop its old ghosts. It’s just a fact of life living around 8.2 million other human beings.

Last night I fell asleep to the sounds of TriBeCa outside my window.

I dreamt of the images of New York ever in my mind with snippets of songs creating a soundtrack that I couldn’t quite remember upon waking, but he melodies are running through my head this morning as the horns blare and the construction men below me yell out orders.

I like this city.

TA