For many of us the daily commute isn’t something we consciously think about, it’s just the way to get from A to B. You try to go about it in an efficient way making the loss of precious spare time bearable and as short as possible. I’m lucky, out of the four days in my working week I can stay in my home town for two: the other two I have to travel 3 hours there and back again from my doorstep.
Riding my bike to the railway station, sitting in the train for an hour, walking to the office: all of this takes place in my little virtual world. A sort of a self-created bubble of my favorite music on my headphones, and while I’m sitting down in the train, my current game on my handheld and the breakfast that I made at home that morning (usually two sandwiches, one with cheese and one with Speculoos). To be honest, I don’t mind at all, its personal time for me without any disturbances. At least, when the train is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, taking me from A to B.
Looking around the other day, it occurred to me that most of us travel that way. Ensconced in our own little world, no eye contact, just travelling in the same direction. On the occasion that there’s a train disruption this all changes. All of a sudden, we all become fellow travelers, victim of the same obstacle that has knocked us out of our daily routine. It’s as if people want to find comfort in the problems of others who are obviously in the same boat (or train in this case) as they are. They complain about the train company, tell tales of woe about meetings or exams they will be missing or about how long they have been travelling already to get to where they want to go. Some time ago a lady asked for my advice about how to get to her airplane in time, if I knew of a shorter route then just sitting and waiting for the next available train to Schiphol. I couldn’t do much for her, but I did feel very sorry for her, I knew in her place I’d be frantic too at the thought of missing my plane. Or the elderly lady who did have an old mobile phone, but no clue about how to send a text message to her daughter who would be picking her up. Of course I helped her out, thinking of my own mom and how she would be worried if she couldn’t be there in time.
And every now and then something happens that makes me feel positive and energized. Like the one time when I was leaving the train, and the girl that had been sitting opposite me tapped on my shoulder. “I just wanted to say that I really love that jacket you are wearing!” High praise because she was obviously many, many years younger then me. So, do I mind the travelling? No, not really. For me it’s pure me-time, and most of the time that means Mii time!