There is something to be said about a paperback book on a commute to work.
Prior to moving to New York City I already had an understanding of the MTA and the entire public transportation system, mainly that it meant I, not only did not need a car, but I would no longer had to worry about gas, car insurance or driving in general.
It also meant walks to subway stations, changing routes based on train delays and turnstiles.
For a person that lives in Brooklyn, the commute to the city is not terrible, depending on where you are going, but a work commute into Jersey City is a bit of a trek.
Walk to the C train, take it to chambers, get off, get on the path train to Newark, get off at Grove Street and take a shuttle to my final destination. All in all it can take an hour and fifteen minutes to get from my apartment to work.
This commute is made round trip four times a week. That is 2.5 hours a day getting to and from work, that equals to about 10 hours a week I spend in a subway station, on a train, riding a shuttle getting to my workplace, classroom or apartment.
So, what does one do on a commute?
Well when you no longer have the responsibility of driving, you have the freedom to focus your attention on other things besides the road.
Some use this time to sit, with ear buds snuggly wedged against their eardrums to drown out the screech of rails. Others meditate to themselves in complete silence, staring into space, while some use it as an opportunity to ask for handouts, money and food, while you are trapped in a steel box with no escape until your stop.
I, along with a handful of others per car, use it to suppress the present world with another altogether.
Paperbacks spring from pockets, backpacks and purses to be curled and folded in our faces in order for us to not bother the beats of the DJ on board, avoid eye contact with the meditative guru zoning out on your face and become invisible to the homeless person standing to your left with a jingling cup in their hand.
We use this time the only way we know how.
We use this opportunity to catch up on our latest novel obsession or to have something to say at book club later.
For me it is a chance to read by choice. Instead of the textbook of graduate studies or mock manuscript for a project, I get to read something as I choose.
I know I will not get this chance when I get home tonight as I will have just returned from a 15 hour day (6:45 am commute, work, commute, gym, school, commute, home at 9:45pm) and I will be too drained after unloading today, reloading for tomorrow, showering and getting ready for bed.
Although reading is relaxing for me and a favorite pastime of mine, at the end of those days the only thing I can focus on is getting my head to the pillow as fast as humanly possible.
So I use that approximate 2.5 hours per day to read. I have lived here for roughly a month and 2 weeks and I am finishing up my third book.
Read in staccato chunks here and there between train transfers and stops, or the c from uptown all the way to Crown Heights, I lift my book to my face and escape. It makes that 10 hours a week put to good use, it keeps my own sanity in tact when the panhandler around me lost theirs a long time ago, and it allows me to catch up and keep in touch with my favorite pastime.
Thus, there is something to be said about a paperback book on a commute to work. Curled edges clutched in shaky hands for turns and jolts of the rickety old subway car, I read.
If you have any suggestions for my next commuter book, let me know. I am nearly done with my latest escape (Mindy Kaling you are genius, and Christina thank you for the suggestion.)
Happy commute folks!