Sunday, June 22, 2008

NJ Transit

I rode the New Jersey Transit for the first time recently. I took a 5:30 rush hour train from Penn Station out to Trenton where my friend picked me up. Being a non-commuter, I was surprised by how many people packed onto the train. I was also surprised at how damn pushy and aggro these people were to board FIRST and FASTER before anyone else. One woman shoved ahead of me as if competing for the prize of Sole Golden Throne Private Sleeping Dining Car Complete With Servants, Wine Cellar and Surround Sound In-Train Theater. Weird. But the strangest behavior I witnessed occurred as we approached the Princeton stop. The conductor made an announcement, the first in our whole almost-hour-long journey: "Please do not block the vestibule. Standing in the vestibule will only delay the conductor and prevent him from doing his job efficiently. Please keep the vestibules clear." I guess the vestibule on a train is the weird little nether-region in between cars where the doors are. Then I realized why he had made that announcement. A good five or ten minutes before we even reached Princeton, people started lining up in the aisle to wait for the train to stop. I'm talking a good fifteen or twenty people in my car alone, not just a few of these Type A's. They just stood there, swaying and waiting, swaying and waiting. One guy was drumming his fingers impatiently on the seat directly in front of me at eye level. I wanted to swat at his hand after the first fifty drumrolls. I thought to myself, "What is wrong with you people? Can't you relax?" I wondered if half of these people wouldn't leap onto the platform before the train even rolled to a stop if they were given the chance. I also wondered if they would speed walk or flat out sprint to their cars in the commuter parking lot.

Does it really make sense to leave your seat and jockey for position for five or ten minutes just so you can save fifteen seconds to be one of the first people to exit? Sometimes human behavior is completely baffling to me.

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