Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Great Moments In Urban Commuting

I take the train to Chicago just about every day to get to work. Typically I wouldn't mention this rather mundane slice of life, except that I do encounter a few characters along the way. There's "Clouseau", a man who is a wicked weed fiend and who happens to look quite a bit like the famous Peter Sellers role, when he was in a bad disguise. Every morning he is there sucking on a cig until the very last moment, dark moustache, beady eyes and a ridiculous hat that is a cross between a fedora, and Elaine's legendary "Urban Sombrero". I know, sounds a bit confusing, but believe me, if you saw him you'd agree.

There is also this one guy who is always late. Another odd dresser, he typically wears suit pants, a white shirt, cheap wire rim glasses, rumpled trench coat and a seemingly endless series of baseball hats. Every day the guy barrels into the lot at the last minute and sometimes has to kind of run to get to the train. I always think, "I wonder if he ever considered leaving the house two minutes earlier? Life would be so much easier." This is the man I want to tell you about today.

Today, this man, this short, nerdy overweight man man delivered a very impressive performance. This guy who is always, and I mean always, late. This guy left me speechless.

As the train was coming to a stop today, my fellow commuter, who is even later than he normally is suddenly roars off the road, and cuts a tire screeching hard right into the parking lot. I was walking up to the train door and just shook my head thinking, "well, the dude's just pushed the needle too far this time".

As I looked back towards the lot from the vestibule of the train, I saw a streak of white and kacki between the evergreens. Had this been Wisconsin, I would have just assumed it was yet another deer sighting. He moved with such speed! Such grace!

Well, at this point I had to see how our impromptu little morning drama would play out. "Come on dude, come on!" I rooted for the guy as he raced towards the door. I'm telling you this guy was on fire! If ever there is a lawyer Olympics my money is on "Short, Baseball Hat Nerdy Man From Nearby Town". But did he have enough time!?

Closer, closer with every step you could see it in his eyes; "I just might make it"! And he did! With the great leap of a man who might have once run hurdles - he didn't even break stride - our friend, and my new personal hero, launched his middle-aged body, a briefcase, and a shopping bag full of newspapers, into the train. Amazing!

As he climbed the two steps up into the vestibule he looked up at me. I was standing there, staring at him with a look of slack-jawed amazement.

"Well done." I said

"Thanks", he huffed

And with that, we started our day.