Why I Love Train Delays

by Emma Tilden

I Love Train Delays. 

I guess I’m outnumbered among New Yorkers. In a city where speed-walking is the norm and takeout is standard fare for lunch because it saves time to work at your desk, I find myself getting caught up in the whirlwind of the day.  With my brain trying to do so many things at once, I’m past exhausted by the time I pack up my bags to head home. 

But this morning, when the train conductor’s strong Brooklyn accent blared through the intercom, announcing extreme delays due to a broken train track and triggering a cacophony of groans and a few choice curses from my fellow passengers, I settled down into my seat in contentment.  The week had gotten off to a stressful start and, since I hadn’t been late to work yet, I felt able to relax. 

Without cellphone service, I was cut off from the world of distractions, and lacking a smartphone I couldn’t just start playing Candy Crush to pass the time. Instead, I settled into the world of my fellow New Yorkers, inventing the life stories of the people sitting across from me.  The woman in the shiny navy pantsuit ran away with the circus when she was young, but now she’s working her way to the top of a large retail company. The man with dreadlocks to his waist started growing them when he was 14. He dedicated them to his pet ferret, James, who ran away when they were on vacation in the Bahamas. The tall guy standing by the door used to play basketball professionally, but now he sells art in Chelsea. On the weekends he goes to the Hampton’s with his boyfriend where they’re fixing up a house together. With each little story I built, I could feel myself unwinding a bit more, letting my imagination run free, unaccountable. 

When the train pulled into the station at 28th St., (40 minutes late) I felt relaxed and calm. Sitting in the train, not worrying about where I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do, had worked better than meditation. I was ready to face the day.  

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