Veer Right

I stood on the platform before the sun came up, waiting for the train. I looked up and saw a V formation of six pelicans. They were way off course. They belonged near the ocean, not this far inland. I concluded their GPS got muddled and they ended up at the subway station instead. Maybe they were going to go home that way. Once in San Francisco the way to the ocean was much closer. They could hop on the cable car and be at the wharf in minutes to the delight of all the tourists.

They continued to make several loops around the station in silence. Pelicans don’t honk like geese. They’re the introverts of the sky.

I kept following them with my eyes, wondering where they would touch down. All the station had to offer was a large cement parking lot, and miles of train tracks with a dangerous third rail that could kill you. I had visions of charred pelican and burned feathers. Not a pretty sight. Landing on cement wouldn’t be much prettier either. That would be a rough landing with scraped feet.

I thought of calling the firefighters to come rescue them. To pull their ladders into the sky and bring each one down to safety. But that wouldn’t work. They’d think me a crazy woman. I don’t know why. They’ve rescued a few of my cats up a tree.

Then just before the train arrived I saw them change course, come in lower and disappear behind a line of trees to the quacking of ducks at a nearby pond. Those ducks gave them their landing coordinates and saved me from a morning of drama.

Calvin says, “You should have called. I would have positioned myself in the middle of the parking lot and howled them down.”

Never Getting Home

It took me two hours to get home on the train last night.I know for some this is normal, but it wasn’t for me.

When I came down the escalator the platform was a sea of people, tightly knit together in a mass of black and grey, standing in one direction away from the platform I usually wait on. Of course there were no announcements to explain this sight. Everyone was relatively subdued and waiting patiently. There must have been five hundred people there, everyone on their smart phones checking for updates. Eventually a calming female voice made an announcement. There was a serious medical emergency at the station before ours and they had closed down the track. Meanwhile they were running all trains, in and out, on one single track. That was even more alarming to me. How could they do that without major smash-ups?

There was no air to breathe below ground. This was also a good indication of how unprepared the city was for an emergency. No police presence either. Another announcement was made. This one specifying that there were too many people here and train personnel were closing the doors at street level for a while. 

I considered my options. To stay or find a coffee shop to wait in, but then I realized I’d be trading one line for another. I decided to stay. Trains trickled in for the next hour, but none were mine. The mass of humanity thinned out a bit bringing some relief. At this point I was strategizing which trains to take and backtrack to get home, but it was too complicated. I would have ended up in Alaska. I stayed put.

Eventually, an hour and fifteen minutes later, another announcement was made telling us the serious medical emergency had been handled and trains were resuming on both tracks again.

While we were never told what that emergency was, we were grateful to get on our respective trains heading in the right direction even if we were packed in like cattle.

Calvin says, “So glad I wasn’t with you. I would have rolled on the ground and howled my complaints.”

Collapse of the Berlin Wall

Yesterday was a first for me. I was on the subway and nearing my stop. I got up from my seat a minute ahead, something I do all the time, walked to the door, and landed flat on my back. The ground gave way under me. More correctly, I gave way. My knees buckled and I went down. It happened so fast it took a few seconds to realize I was staring up at the ceiling. I must say I collapsed gracefully, as if I had practiced this maneuver all my life, like a ballerina on point. In actuality I came down like a ton of bricks.

Fortunately there weren’t many people on board so I had the floor to myself. And it was reasonably clean. The few passengers that saw me go down didn’t move, they just watched me collapse. IMG_4443

One man, who sat near the door, helped me get up, sort of. He helped me sit up and then I got to my feet on my own. I didn’t have any broken bones, head concussions or scrapes. I didn’t look wounded. I did not want to be one of those riders who got sick on the train and the whole subway system jams up while the paramedics and the police with their German Shepherds show up. I just got off at my stop and kept walking.

I made it to the office and gulped down my first cup of coffee.

A few hours later my lower back began complaining. That’s all, just a whine of self-pity in a minor key. I could live with that.

Calvin says, “You know, taking me for walks has limbered you up, otherwise you would have folded like a deck chair and stayed there.”beagle

All We Like Sheep

Image result for crowded subway train

This morning the subway system had a major malfunction. Everything was broken – the tracks, the cars, and even the people. What completely baffles me are the passengers. They’re sheep. Our train was so full we couldn’t squeeze in a fly, but does anybody notice that? When we pulled into the stop, our conductor, realizing the suffocating situation we were in, announced to the crowd on the platform to wait for the train just behind us, which was headed in the same direction and was empty. What did the crowd do? They shoved and pushed their way into our train. I was afraid we would collapse from the load. And then we faced the under water tunnel into the city and I cringed. I have nightmares of a breakdown in the tunnel with no escape unless you like to swim, which I don’t. And I didn’t want to die with this morning’s crowd. They were too stupid. If I’m going to die in an accident, I want to go down with smart people.  Fortunately we made it safely into the city otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. But it goes to show how people in general do not think, or react well to a scenario that requires reason. If I had been waiting for the train and had had the option of the second train, I would have waited, but then again, I could have been the only one facing the risk of getting trapped in the tunnel with no one else on board but the train operator. At least I’d have had him for company when we died together.

Calvin says, “Stick to walking, always the safest bet unless you run into something ten times your size and then run like hell.”  beagle

The Next Stop

I see this scene every day. A man gets on the train with me and sits in two empty seats. He’s dressed to the nines. Full piece gabardine suit with a handkerchief peeking out of his pocket, silk tie to match, pale colored shirt, stylist shoes and artsy socks. I notice these things. His dark rimmed circle glasses makes him look like a scholar who belongs in a wing back chair in a well appointed library, smoking a pipe as he bends over his large book in his lap.painting30

She gets on the next stop and smiles at him. He beams. She’s in a simple shirt, pants and running shoes. Her purse is a backpack. They huddle like lovebirds. He’s the talker, she’s the listener. Both wear wedding bands. Are they married to each other or is this a rendezvous? Perhaps they’re newlyweds. Both in their 50’s. They couldn’t be this besotted with each other otherwise.

Calvin says, “I vote for the rendezvous. That way you have entertainment for the ride home.”  beagle

 

So It’s Raining

Finally.

It’s been raining cats and dogs.

Mostly cats.

They’ve been under my window at night hissing and booing.

Every day there’s a parade of them sniffing my bushes around the house. Black, white, grey and the occasional tortoise. They prance along with tails high. They learn who’s been there. Then they leave the next memoir installment detailing the gossip of their sordid little lives for the others to stay current.

To my knowledge there’s hasn’t been a runaway best seller yet.

They’re not too happy this week.

The daily Feline Gazette has been watered down from hard core news to sound bites that are water logged and hold no new mews. The social media section has mud caked on its whiskers. The local news, well there isn’t much due to the storms, which has led everybody indoors to lick their paws.

The few still out there got to witness drama in their own backyard last night.cats and dogs

A train derailed through the canyon. A mudslide washed over a portion of the tracks. One of the cars fell over on its side and slid down the embankment and was baptized in the creek. Fortunately no one lost life or limb, a few ended in the hospital but were later released, and most commuters got home without a scratch.

Those intrepid felines who gathered in the trees got to witness the first responders take charge and do their jobs. It was exhilarating. They’ll have an article in the next edition of the Gazette with their by-line.

If it stops raining.

Calvin says, “Cats are stupid. Why go out in the rain when you can burrow under a down comforter and eat bonbons?” beagle

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous in Rags

Riding into work this morning on the subway, a tall blonde got on board.

The car was full so she grabbed a strap and hung on for the ride into the city.

I suspected this was her preferred mode anyway even if the car had been empty.

She was dressed in torn, filthy beige overalls. Her parka had layers of grime on it. Her backpack was vintage muck.

Construction tools spilled out of every pocket. Spiral bound notebooks, too. A pencil.

I looked at her face. She was very pretty. Clear skin, rosy cheeks, bright brown eyes, and she looked freshly scrubbed.  Maybe mid-twenties.electrician

She was one crazy contrast.

I was intrigued.

I got off at my stop and noticed she did, too. We got in line for the escalator. She was in front of me.

I couldn’t resist.

“What kind of work do you do?” I asked from behind.

She looked down, removed her earbuds. “Are you asking me?”

“Yes, I’m curious.”

“I’m an electrician,” she said.

“Oh,” I said.

She smiled. “I know,” she said looking at her clothes.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it!” she said with gusto. “I can get dirty everyday while working on fancy new buildings.”

“How do the others treat you, being you’re in a man’s world?” I asked.

“Fine. Most of them are wimps. They’re all babies, you know.”

We reached the top and said good-bye to each other. She smiled.

Babies. I think she gave herself away.

Calvin says, “Never judge a person by their clothes. Take me for instance. You’d never guess that a cynical, freewheeling, and persnickety heart lurks underneath this silken fur.”  beagle