The Commuter Shuffle

by on December 12, 2013


There’s the minute or two to the end of my street. The minute down Damen to Chicago Avenue. The minutes spent waiting for the bus, followed by the seven or eight standing on it and the five on the subway it leads me to. Finally the five-minute stroll down Lake Street, with the El tracks grinding and rattling beside me, and up State to the boxy white skyscraper I work in.

To commute is to lose yourself in rhythm. In the dull-edged blocks of time and familiar movements your body comes to anticipate—little automaton firings from the reptilian brain. The familiar surroundings reduced to so much background for meditations on a New Yorker article, plans for the night ahead, and the meaning of life—or at least the meaning of that neighbor with glasses appearing sans boyfriend again (they had seemed so happy).

A few years into my life as an office worker, my mornings are spent in a state of flow. It’s a current that carries me along, right from sleep to the rest of my day. I’m so used now to picking the perfectly-sized chunk of reading as I move from house to bus to subway, sensing when I need to snap to the present, taking mindless steps from stairs to sidewalk, sidewalk to stairs, stairs to sidewalk, it hardly seems notable, let alone necessary.

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