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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

No Filter

As per my usual routine, I am standing in the vestibule of a LIRR car this morning. It’s the same spot in the same car where I can always be found on a weekday morning. I chose to stand in this spot for several reasons:

  1. The train gets crowded quickly, and I’m probably going to give up my seat anyway.
  2. Out of 5 stops, the doors that I stand next to open only once
  3. I sit all day and (oddball that I am) actually prefer to stand.

We get to Jamaica (the stop where these doors open) and there’s a crowd of people on the platform lining up, trying to squeeze as close as possible to the doors yet leave a minimum amount of space for people to get off first. 

Directly in front of me now, a situation is playing out. A tall guy gives a dirty look to a short lady, who has her own mean look about her as she nudges forward slightly. The last of the passengers leaving the train steps off and this guy pushes past the lady abruptly, cutting her off and causing her to stop with a shocked expression on her face. 

“Oh, THAT was nice….” ← OOOPs, did I say that out loud? (Crap, I know better than that.) 

Did I mention that he’s a big guy? In the few moments that I have left on this good earth I rationalize my faux pas with a well-known equation:   

 early morning x no coffee = no filter.

Put that on my tombstone. 

                By the way, my interior voice didn’t say “crap” but since that moment I have had some coffee and in the telling of this experience I am happy to report not only that all my filters are properly in place but that I am in fact still alive. He steps past me and waits on the other side of the vestibule for the crowd to pass……
“She came from behind, stepped in front of me and pushed back into me -like I wasn’t even there.”
OK. He must feel bad; he’s trying to justify himself. I smile.
“I know, I see it every day - It happens to me. We have no control over that stuff.” He’s listening, so I continue: “The question is: how do you respond to it?” (Did I just say that? Well, I guess I’m committed now, so why not?)
He comes clean
“I’m just in a really BAD mood.” He steps directly across from me as the crowd begins to settle into their individual spots.
“I hear you, man. I hope whatever is bothering you works out for you.” (That probably sounds dumb and somewhat patronizing, but what does one say in this situation?)
“I had a really late night last night because of a mistake that someone ELSE made. That’s six hours of my life I’ll never get back.”
He begins to unload, I’m all ears. It turns out he works in IT, and I understand the situation that precipitated the mood.  He tells me that he’s heading into work now to read the riot act to an employee and that he’s probably going to use what his family calls his “military voice.” He smiles.
I share one of my IT battle stories and we begin to commiserate. It was a good conversation that lasted a solid 20 minutes. When we got to Penn, he thanked me for the catharsis. We shake hands and wish each other a good day.

I made the rest of my way into work with a smile on my face; as I settled in at my desk  - coffee in hand - I felt as though I’ve already done my “job” for the day.

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