For the first time in his life he was running to get to the train. His weekly train pass – $21.75 for seven days, folks – expired in roughly a minute, and he knew that the next train into the city was scheduled to come at “exactly” – liberal use of the word on the part of the transportation authority – at the same time his pass expired. So, a tense and thrilling situation of man versus the clock: the makings for any great story.
Yes, indeed he was running out of time, running with a body out of shape, and running from a life out of luck. But in this moment – when he was panting and gasping, coughing and slobbering over himself, pants yanking down with every stride because he forgot his belt – he found solace in its perfection as an example. Cause for why, in this moment, while running like a physical dullard to beat a train for the first time in his life, he was resolutely glad that he was running.
He ran along as fast as his little, wobbly legs could flee. He tripped and caught himself, almost rhythmically, on every fourth or fifth lunge forward. His shoes – clearly not intended for running – smacking and flopping awkwardly and obnoxiously whole the while. But he didn’t, for obvious reason, care about the humiliation. He didn’t care that he was panting and gasping like a fool. He needed to get to the train at all costs.
And he did, eventually, get to the station. He flung open the heavy glass doors (that did nothing for retaining the station’s temperature), swung himself to the turn-style, and fed his weekly pass into the slot. Pass Expired.
“Fuck me”, he gasped, looking up at the electronic light board, reading that the next train was currently arriving. He turned quickly to the automated kiosk to try and buy a ticket. Alas, along with his belt, he had also forgotten the last few scarps of money that he had littered about his tiny apartment. He cursed loudly, and some heads turned, but he didn’t care. He looked around frantically scanning for train station security. None in sight. And so, for the first time in his life, he hopped the turn style.
“Hop” might not be the exact right word, actually. It was much more of a strained and embarrassing mounting; a clumsy and floundering hoist of body weight over a mechanical barrier. But despite the obviousness of his petty crime, none of the other commuters in the station seemed to notice. So, with only a few moments to spare, he had made it to the train.
He jogged, well, stumbled forward to the end to the train platform. As he blundered forth, he could see the train coming from a distance. He kept going, closer and closer to the end of the platform, sweat skimming down around his eyes sockets, his hair flopping and sticking to the perspiration on his forehead. He arrived at the end of the station platform as the train was barreling in about twenty feet away now. He had made it, and he felt relieved. His running had paid off. The train thundered oneward and began to squeal with breaking. And this was the sound he heard as he took a deep breath of victory. For the first time in his life, he felt in control, like he had succeeded. And as the train skid across the final feet of tracks leading to the platform, for the last time in his life, he stepped forward – not into the train, but in front of it.