Time stops on the train

CITY LIFE.TRAIN RIDESby Stacey Warde

A couple of guys in shirts and ties board the train in LA.

“Yeah, sure, we could probably add another million dollars in sales if she didn’t have such a volatile personality,” says one as the two organization men take seats across the aisle. “She’s a diamond in the rough. She’ll be all right.”

“You’re too soft on your people,” says his companion.

“Yeah, well….” the first starts to hem and haw, and concoct a story.

He is too soft, I think, just as his companion says. He’s probably a lousy manager, no worse than I’ve ever been. I hate managing people. I’m too soft too, like this guy who’s trying to tell a story about giving people a chance.

His companion stops him and counters: “If you create goals, with clear-cut objectives, and set a timeline….”

“I know, I know,” the other interjects, unwilling to hear what his companion has to say.

I try to listen over the rattling of the passenger car, the frequent whistle of the engineer’s signals, and announcements from the conductor over the intercom, but it’s impossible to hear what he’s saying. It’s better, I think, that I can’t hear. It’s all bullshit any way.

My instincts tell me he’s not saying anything; he’s creating another fiction, feeding the corporate machine that will eventually eat him alive. “What a waste of time,” I think, “put on a shirt and tie so you can spend the day making up stories and kissing people’s asses.”

Time stops for me on the train. I don’t’ do business. I stop, and listen, and watch people; and daydream, and try not to pay attention to dubious talk about diamonds in the rough.

The only diamond in the rough I care about is the one who’s supposed to pick me up at the end of the line tonight. She’s not happy with me; at least she wasn’t the last time we spoke several days ago.

I’m pretty sure she wants me to move out. I’ve been gone four days and haven’t heard a word from her until this morning.

She sent an email: “I’ll pick you up tonight. Will you be buying sushi?”

For a few days, I wasn’t sure I’d have a place to call home. Maybe I don’t, I reason, but at least I’ve got a ride back from the train station. I can always find another place to live. “You fly, I’ll buy,” I wrote back.

The suits, coats thrown casually over their shoulders, jump off the train at the next station, still yakking away about money and setting timelines and goals.

I stretch back my head and arms, reaching as far back as I can with my fingertips, almost touching the panel above my head where the light and fan switches are, and take a deep breath. “Jesus Christ!” I mutter, “what a shitty fucking life those guys…”

I could argue that mine’s no better. I mean, until this morning, I wasn’t even sure that I had a home. In any case, there’s really no need to worry about that now. The train, as it runs, takes care of all my worries. What else can I do but sit back and enjoy the ride? §

Stacey Warde is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at roguewarde@gmail.com

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