notes from the commute

Each morning, minutes before people wander on to the 7:26 out of Tuvalu, a small team of workers walk through the train with shoulder bags. It is their job to pick up trash left by commuters. There are newspapers, coffee cups, stray papers lying about and these people have the task of clearing them away. I don't know how often that particular train goes back and forth to the city - it's possible that it makes the 30 minute trip five or six times before I get on it, but by the time I/we board it is littered with trash. Dozens of coffee cups (never completely empty), five or six newspapers, leaflets, and the occasional fast food bag can be found on seats and in the aisles. What does this trash team do? They each walk into the train at the far end and pick up the cups and papers near the door and then LEAVE. Their trash bags are not full, they seem to be in no hurry, and, worst of all, they seem not to check very many other cars.
One day, a couple of weeks ago, K and I got on the train and it was filthy. We noticed it just as the trash team was leaving. Incredulous, K went out to the platform and asked if they had "done" our car. Yes, they said, to which he replied: but there are coffee cups and newspapers everywhere! One of the team grudgingly came back into the car and picked up a cup here and there and two papers...and left. What burns my britches is that so many people in our town/city need work and these people seem not to care about their work. It's not even the kind of employment that one might argue is disgusting or demeaning. These people walk through the cars of an empty train, before anyone is there and pick up paper. The train is heated/cooled there is no heavy lifting, the trash is "clean trash," the workers wear gloves, people are not discourteous to them - and yet, they do a quarter of the job and walk away.
The very same thing happened on Friday. Middle and I had a hard time finding a place to sit without pushing trash onto the floor and the workers were just outside the car. While we talked about it another commuter said: I heard that last week someone from this train went and got one of them and made him come back to pick up. I told her that was K.
Now I think I need to speak to the Station Manager (who stands at the end of the platform looking very important). And I'm not a complainer - especially not HERE.
It makes me growly when people behave that way.
I don't think a Railroad Maintenance position is easy to secure and I have known other railroad workers and, if I remember correctly, they are nicely compensated and have terrific benefits.

I'll stop now.

Look who I saw on my way to work later that morning...


The leaves are turning in town! They have only just started near my house but in the park just beyond my office they are gold.

On my way home last night I was standing in the station waiting for them to call my train.
A blind man was wandering about 15 feet away from me and was shouting. He wasn't angry, I noticed, and went closer to hear what he was saying.
Am I still in McDonalds?
He was YARDS from McDonalds and had his cane and a soda in his hands.
Hello! You are NOT in McDonalds - do you want to be?
The station was, at peak commuting time, swarmed with people!
I would like to go to the waiting room.
I took his sleeve (he was wearing a very nice gray canvas jacket and the fabric was wonderfully heavy) and started to move through the crowd.
I loudly asked people to excuse us (people did not excuse us!) and moved him, with some speed, across the station (it's a big place!) and through the lines of people buying tickets.
He was very tall, taller than K and though I know that he should have held my arm as we walked, both of his hands were full so it was tricky navigating.
People aren't paying attention to me asking to let us come through, I told him.
You get used to that, he said quietly.
Finally, we got around the corner and arrived at the waiting room.
Would you like me to find you a seat?
No, I'd like you to find me the fella who works here.
And so I did.
I left him there, feeling a little goofy, and thanked him (see? goofy.) and rushed off for my train.
I wish he was shorter so we could have talked a little. He was too tall for me to hear clearly through the noise of the crowd.
But his jacket was wonderful.


KPB said…
I love it when you get all chessy.
Anonymous said…
You are always so sweet. Do people realize that? I am not so sure.
Re the workers, I was kind of smiling, you should live here and see our trains. HA HA HA HA HA.
Sad, but true.
And I still love those twins. One day you should approach them, no?
Anonymous said…
while I agree that people should actually do the job they are hired to do. particularly in the current economy. What gets under my skin is that the car i filthy. Why can't people take their coffee cups, and newspapers and put them where they are supposed to go. I ride my bike to work most days, and while the ride is generally pretty clean, I will occasionally see an entire bag of fast food garbage on the side of the road. people think it's not their problem. people thing the world will clean up after them. So, yes, the railroad guys should definitely do their jobs. But everyone should do their job. including recycling or trashing their trash.

I get fried when people leave trash for other people to clean up.

I also get fried when someone is clearly asking for help and everyone ignores them.

Thank you for helping him.
eurolush said…
Those ladies in the photo are my future. I see it very clearly now. One day my twin sister and I will take over where these ladies leave off...

And it will be spectacular.

PS-When you speak to the Station Manager, if you haven't already, tell him you are disappointed. "Disappointed" is the secret word that will get any problem solved...without seeming aggressive or pushy. I swear, it works.

Okay, enough advice. I'm done.
Carol said…
I am as dismayed that so many people leave so much trash behind as with the poor job the train employees do. Does anyone else picture the Native American Indian with the tear running down his face?
Grandma Cebe said…
I agree that the train employees should be doing the job they are paid to do, to the best of their ability.

But the people who leave their trash for others to deal with are selfish and lazy. If I rode your train, you just might see me saying something to those slobs.
RW said…
I, too think to myself why don't people take their trash off the train themselves.... sort of like at the movie theatre - people just leave behind their empty containers....

Those two women who dress alike....fascinating... I wonder where they will show up next and wearing what?
Anonymous said…
The twins are back! Love it. Love them.

If that gentleman had been closer to your height, I hope you would have had an "Amelie" walk with him, describing everything you saw in great detail. I can just see it now.

Loretta said…
OK, what I don't get is why people would leave all this trash - do they think it's a movie theater?? LOL! WHY do people think it's ok to leave their trash IN the movie theater?

(that is my Seinfeld impersonation)

OTOH - my best friend's husband has worked for the RR for 40 years and what you are describing is pretty much "business as usual".

Glad K complained!
ree said…
Such an utterly blackbird thing to do. I love you.
Anonymous said…
I love you best when you're feeling a little bit goofy.

Mary said…
A perfect notes from the commute !

Complete with twins...
Miz S said…
It's so YOU to notice the weight of the fabric of the blind man's jacket.
Poppy B. said…
You're so cute when you say a situation burns your britches.

I agree with the people who think commuters who litter a train with coffee cups and newspapers need a good ass-whupping. I say let someone burn their britches.
robiewankenobie said…
my journal feed is plumb FIRED. i can't believe it kept me waiting this long for such a post of awesome. stupid feed. hrumph.
Anonymous said…

I dare you:

One day, to walk up to those two ladies and say...

"Do you two KNOW eachother?"

And then tell us all about how they react.

p.s. How much do you want to bed that their names? Are RHYMING. Like Connie & Bonnie. Or Cheryl and Beryl, or Dorothy and Schmorothy? HA! That's what we should call them here. Dorothy and Schmorothy.

And - might I are lovely. LOVELY. Your story about helping that man was so touching... May it come back to you tenfold.