With many states, including the one in which I live, re-opening, I hear people talk about how eager they are to get back out of the house and back. I think they may have forgotten exactly what they are going back to So, here is a reminder: Your Morning Commute, as narrated by Charles Dickens.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, that is to say it must have been the best of times for someone, somewhere, in some blessed place which was far, far away from these subway stairs which descended from the street above to the platform below like Lucifer being cast out from heaven. So dark, so dismal, so foreboding were those stairs, that as the commuters descending them did not have to try very hard to imagine that the words printed on the sign did not advertise cut-rate insurance, but rather read, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
The train was on time, in as much as it arrived at the same time as it usually did: 20 minutes late, but so downtrodden were the commuters, so used to the incompetence of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, they hardly complained beyond a customary, but largely perfunctory oath, which was muttered under their collective breaths.
The passengers pushed themselves into the train cars with the exact opposite effect of clowns pouring out of a small automobile, each attempting to squeeze into the tiny aperture at the same time. They pushed and pushed but to no effect, until suddenly, they managed to squeeze through in a manner that only spineless creatures, spineless enough to do the dreary jobs to which they were headed, could.
The train doors closed and opened and closed again, crushing those who refused to head the warnings to “stand clear” like any Great Expectations those commuters might have had for this day, as they traveled from their bleak houses to their bleaker offices.
The train entered the tunnel, and a heavy pall of shadow fell over the car, casting its shadow not only across the dirty benches lit by fluorescent bulbs which flickered on and off intermittently, but also threw its shade over the soul.
There was a creeping smell in all the subway. It meandered through the car like an evil spirit, seeking a spot to linger, a host to possess, a smell that would cling to clothing long past lunchtime, hiding deep within the fibers and seeping out, inevitably, during an important business meeting. It made its way slowly through the air, in near-visible ripples, overlaying one another, a contaminating contagion infesting nostrils, which wrinkled involuntarily, and causing the less experienced commuters to gasp audibly, and even the veteran passengers to recoil to some degree.
As that train rumbled through those dark tunnels, a spell seemed to be cast over all the passengers by some unseen witch, a spell of routine and indifference as the gray minions of conformity assumed the role automatons, gears to be ground until their teeth lost all bite within the vast and unforgiving capitalist machine. And as the light dimmed from their eyes, and as the hope seeped from their souls, a singular state settled over each-and-every individual there, a state that could only be described as Monday:
Monday, it killed all joy and whatever happiness was still hanging on from the weekend; Monday, in the stacks of paperwork that awaited them on their desks; Monday, in the thousands of notifications already on their phones (could it only be Monday?); Monday, in the eyes of the poor, wretched creature handling a pan; Monday in the two coins they dropped into his cup like tribute to Charon on this transport ferrying them across the river into an Erberus where they would perform tasks more futile than Sisyphus or Tantalus; Monday in his ungrateful reply: “Please sir, can I have some more?”; Monday, in that car like first stop on the local train that comprised the work week; Monday, where even at the beginning, the garbled voice of the conductor told them to expect delays; Monday, seemingly as far from the hope of Friday as Lucifer in the 9th circle of Hell is from paradise; In short, Monday, which despite it’s proximity to Sunday was father from the weekend than any other day of the week.
Such was the rat race, and as the train pulled into the station, the rodents scurried from their hole-in-the-wall apartments to their hole-in-the wall-offices, vermin in search of a measly, likely moldy, piece of cheese.