Staying on Track with Phoebe Sherry – Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap- Becoming a commuter in NYC!

My usual commute to work is the Metro- North Train on the Hudson Valley Line from Westchester to Grand Central. For most this is an easy 35 min train ride from the suburbs direct into the hustle and bustle of NYC. It is a busy commuter line and most mornings my fellow passengers will be engrossed reading the news, their latest book or enjoying the 35 mins of silence, maybe even a nap, before they start their work day.

As I prepare for this journey each day anxiety usually starts to hit about 15 mins before the train is meant to arrive. It all starts with the ‘little metal ramp’. To get on and off the train safely a little metal ramp is used to bridge the gap between the platform and the train. While the Conductors mean well when they try to help me board the train, they never actually know which car the ramp is located. The longer they take to find it, the more I feel bad for the hundreds of people I am now making late for work. A five-minute delay when everyone is staring at you can feel like an eternity. This would be one thing that I would advocate to change that ALL conductors know where the ramp is at ALL times.

Finally getting on the train I try not to be concerned with my tendency to feel claustrophobic. Hopefully I get one of the seats that are set aside for ‘Seniors or the Disabled’, but more often that not I “sit” in the space in between the doors that you exit. These are the ones that specifically say not to lean against them and WATCH THE GAP in giant letters enclosed in a triangle. I hate feeling like I’m in people’s way every time we make a stop and the doors open.  I feel like I’m in a sardine container or something!

For most of the journey I try to look out the windows, I find very few people are willing to strike up a friendly conversation. People are always tuning you out with head phones or playing games on their phones.  It’s amazing how you can be travelling with hundreds of people yet feel so isolated.

After arriving at the station I weave my way in and out of the crowd, strategically trying not to run into anyone… not intentionally, anyway! One positive thing I will say about my journey is that Grand Central Station is one of the most extraordinary landmarks in NYC. If you ever find yourself in NYC for a great (and free) experience, head to the Main Concourse, take a moment, imagine you are in a movie and look up at the zodiac mural on the ceiling, it is truly an amazing piece of art. Most days I don’t have the time or luxury to do this. The only public ‘art’ I get to experience are the foul smelling match box elevators, with spaces so small that I can barely turn around.

Finally, after emerging safely from crowds, I hope the wait for the cab isn’t too long. On a bad day this can be more than 45mins. I then squish myself in the back of an accessible taxi and hope New York City traffic gods are on my side…but that is another story for another day.