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Recent "Commuting Suicide" Articles

Commuting Suicide: Volume XXIV

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Wednesdays are matinée days in the city. That means that the population of the city increases as little old women from the suburbs make their way into the city for an afternoon of Jersey Boys. They are fearful of the city, they don’t understand its nuances and shortcuts. It’s as if they travel into the city hoping to cheat death a little. These women assume a day spent in Manhattan is like living life on the edge. And of course, they don’t drive in, as they assume driving in the city is equal to wrestling cougars. No, they take the train. They take MY train.

Continue reading "Commuting Suicide: Volume XXIV"

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Retro Week: Commuting Suicide

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I promised to ramp up my tales of Commuting Suicide. I've failed. Maybe I've become too good a commuter – too good at blocking out my inane fellow travelers, too good at keeping myself entertained. When I'm ready to relaunch this semi-regular feature, my notebook is full of moderately amusing observations (and, in case I find myself pen-less, I started a Twitter account to text myself reminders.)

But I'm proud of a few past installments, including "The Conversationalist," which I actually read during a job interview to a slightly puzzled crowd.

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Commuting Suicide: Volume XXIII

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I should remember that no matter how slow the traffic, or how annoying the seatmate, things could always be worse. My driver could decide to stab me.

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New Jersey - WABC, January 8, 2007 - A bus driver is in police custody in New Jersey, accused of stabbing a passenger. Police say the driver got into a fight with the passenger around 8:45 Monday night at a stop along Bloomfield Avenue.

The passenger allegedly spat in the driver's face during a dispute over the fare. Police say that's when the driver pulled out a knife and stabbed the passenger in the shoulder. That passenger was taken to Newark Hospital.

I did almost get spit on once, but that was in the bus terminal. Besides, I lacked the proper retaliatory stabbing implement to escalate matters to the ABC News-worthy level.

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Commuting Suicide: Volume XXII

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According to the billboard, I'm in New Jersey's most dynamic College Town. Go Newark! The capitalization of College Town bothers me, but not as much as the questionable accuracy of this claim. And nowhere near as much as the non-start traffic. My bus hasn't moved in eighteen minutes. I'm grammar checking the outdoor advertising and going slightly insane.

This does not bode well for the 2007 commuting season.

Looking around, I realize it could be so much worse. I could be so much taller. If our bus were to challenge a rival commuter bus to a basketball scrimmage, the man across the aisle would dominate. He's roughly 6'9" and appears to be in physical pain. I'm 5'10" (and three-quarters) and rather squished myself.

Let me break down our starting five...

Ooh, now we're moving. I'll get off the basketball nonsense. The guy's tall. You get it.

The Palma Mexican Grocery Store delivery truck was just towed away. I do not know whether this driver/vehicle/proprietorship is responsible for my delay. To be safe, I'll get my Mexican groceries elsewhere.

Speaking of so much worse, we're inching past one, two, three, four cars I'm ready to call totaled. No, five. The guy in the fifth car is frantically dialing his cell phone, acting exactly as you'd expect someone whose new Maxima is in two pieces and facing the wrong way.

With the accident and every on-duty NJ State Trooper behind us, the rest of the ride is shockingly short. I will post this at lunch.

Depending on FedEx, tomorrow should be my first commute with my new BlackBerry. I'm not sure if this technology upgrade will allow me to provide live commentary from the bus. We can only hope. Or I could look it up or ask someone. But for now I'll rely on hope.

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Commuting Suicide: Volume XXI

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“At least we don’t have to listen to holiday music out here.”

It was raining and dreary and we were outside. At a bus stop. The absence of holiday music wasn’t doing it for me.

“And hey, the bus won’t be decorated.” With his second comment, the stranger earned himself December’s silver medal for annoying commuter behavior.

I find complaints about Christmas music and overbearing decorations more annoying than Christmas music and overbearing decorations. I’m staunchly pro-holiday cheer. Especially at the individual commuter level. When people are more polite and patient, life is generally better.

There are, of course, exceptions. Which brings me to an even more annoying encounter. Some passengers can’t handle their cheer. Like last Thursday’s seatmate, whose holiday spirit manifested itself in a steady stream of conversational awkwardness. He gets the gold medal. It was a long ride.

Continue reading "Commuting Suicide: Volume XXI"

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Commuting Suicide: Volume XX

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I’ve never been one to advocate theft. But out of my eye’s corner, I can see an item I desperately want. Easily within reach is my seatmate’s cell phone. It’s on her lap. She’s making angry snoring noises. Now’s my chance.

Greetings from Amtrak. We’re coming to you live (on tape delay) from the New York to D.C. leg of Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Service. I have no business in our nation’s capital, but my wife did, and I rarely pass up complimentary lodging.

This represents a significant upgrade from my standard commuting vessel. My legs have room. I was given an in-ride magazine featuring pieces on Jerome Bettis and the best undiscovered restaurants in Montpelier, Vermont. An entire car is dedicated to the sale of snacks, an entity prohibited on my daily bus.

My fellow passengers are more attractive and less angry; they’re from everywhere and could be going anywhere. I helped an elderly Australian couple with their bags, flexing both my diplomatic muscles and my delts. The husband told me they were en route to Newport News, Virginia. The way he said it, Newport News was followed by four question marks. Naming a town must be such a rush.

Continue reading "Commuting Suicide: Volume XX"

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Commuting Suicide: Volume XIX

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I'll admit it. It is nice.

(An actual edition of Commuting Suicide will be pulling in later today.)

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And the rest...

Commuting Suicide: Volume XVIII (Part 2)
This is part two of a two-part recap of a recent ride home. You can read Part I here, but that is not required. When we taxied from our gate to the Lincoln Tunnel, it was considered great progress....
Commuting Suicide: Volume XVIII (Part 1)
Thursday's commute was the second worst of my career. (Quick aside: The worst was March 8, 2005. During a three-and-a-half hour ride home, I sent Scaramouch an email from my cell phone to gauge his progress. It was titled...
Commuting Suicide: Volume XVII
Friday morning I missed my alarm and caught a later bus. With the rush hour(s) behind us, I didn't recognize my fellow passengers. Gone were the subdued commuters, scowling-and-bearing-it, worn down by life. In their stead were a bunch...
Super Indeed
I'm posting this live from the bus, wirelessly connected to the "Super 8" network a few miles from the Lincoln Tunnel. Not a bad place to be stuck in traffic. My right knee, stiff and sore from what must...
Volume XVI: Special Guest Appearance
The place from which I start my commute doubles as a mediocre zoo. Perhaps that's not a fair assessment; I haven't been inside since a much-hyped 1987 field trip. The Turtleback Zoo proved a far superior destination than Kings...
Volume XV: A Question for Passover
After an iPod malfunction*, yesterday morning's only entertainment was the woman behind me. On and on she went about her son's upcoming bar mitzvah. Nothing to hear here, I thought. But the comment that kept me eavesdropping was this:...
Volume XIV: To The Fullest
Sunday afternoon. Driving down Route 10 West. A car driving east up that very road nearly slams me. Head on. He was fleeing the police, who followed a not-very-safe distance behind. I didn't know what almost hit me. But...
Volume XIII: Taking The Local
Friday night I set sail for home later than usual, missing the express buses I regularly take for granted (and complain about mightily). There should be a "Warning! This bus makes frequent stops" sticker on the back. Actually, maybe...
Volume XIII: Answering the Mail
Since our little logo contest, I've gotten a surprising amount of e-mail from readers. OK, five e-mails. But still, surprising. One of the e-mails included an especially intriguing passage: "i'm quitting my job. can you help me write a...
Volume XII: Early (Morning) Adopter
I forgot my video iPod this morning. So deflating. Felt like a blackout. Sure, I could have read Fast Company, or the Stop & Shop circular I found beneath my seat. But instead I chose to sulk, staring out...
Volume XI: The Gold
In the spirit of the Games of the 20th Winter Olympiad, I just accomplished my greatest feat in recent memory. While preparing the driveway for tomorrow's commute, I realized why, hours earlier, DirecTV had called it quits. No longer...
Commuting Suicide: New Logo
I'm proud to announce the winner of our "Design-me-a-logo-and-win-you-a-crappy-novelty-shirt" contest. A big hand for Miami art director Peter Ekstein. An exciting day for all of us. Thanks to all the people who stunned me by submitting logos. I truly...
Volume X: The Conversationalist
Ideally, I ride out the ride home without anyone beside me. Less-than-ideally, I'm joined by a silent seatmate. Then there's the third option. That third option was exercised last night. I shared my commute with a devout conversationalist. Before...
Commuting Suicide Reminder...
Commuting Suicide Volume X is coming Tuesday. This reminder is more for me. A compromise between the part of my brain that loves to write and the part of my brain that loves to sleep. But while I'm here,...
Help Commuting Suicide and win free crap
You know what would make our semi-regular feature better? An appropriate logo. Or maybe just a type-treatment. Since I have trouble grasping even basic design concepts, I'm reaching out to the community. Whip up your snazzy visual take on Commuting...
Commuting Suicide: Volume IX
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume IX: "On Holidays" It's been a while. The delay can be attributed to my video iPod, which has made commuting much more tolerable. And when I'm entertained, I'm not as cognizant...
Commuting Suicide: Volume VIII
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume VIII: "A Commuter Conundrum" Here's a question for all my fellow public transportation users. Your answer provides a real window into your personality. You have two choices: 1. You could accidentally...
Commuting Suicide: Volume VII
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume VII: "Don't Engage" Under any circumstances, initiating a conversation on the bus is a terrible idea. Even if it starts strong and interesting, nobody can keep that up at 7:30am in...
Commuting Suicide: Volume VI
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume VI: "Conversing with the Elderly" Now that Commuting Suicide has reached Regular Feature status in the left-hand column, the pressure's on. Gotta deliver interesting anecdotes on a consistent basis. Evil Richard...
Commuting Suicide: Volume V.V
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume V.V: "Overheard Wisdom" I've been debating whether this was blog-worthy all morning. What the hell. Heard this exchange on the way in: New Guy: "I just moved to town. You'll think...
Commuting Suicide: Volume V
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume V: "Honk if you're miserable" This morning our bus had a minor but ear-piercing malfunction. The horn was stuck in the honk position. For twenty-five minutes. "I don't think he hears...
Commuting Suicide: Volume IV
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume IV: "Banter" If I were a bus driver, there would be stiff competition for the top spot in my "Stuff That Sucks About My Job" rankings. The goofy uniforms would be...
Commuting Suicide: Volume III
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume III: "Walk a Mile Without Shoes" I was absolutely soaked on my seventeen-minute walk across town yesterday morning. My Totes umbrella was no match for the torrential rain and gale force*...
Commuting Suicide: Volume II
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume II: "Bathroom Etiquette" Not many of these commuting stories will involve the Port Authority bathroom, because the Port Authority bathroom is a place I avoid. But my other option was pretending...
Commuting Suicide: Volume I
Commuting Suicide Killing myself slowly, day after day Volume I: "Lost" "Does anybody know what street we're on?" The bus driver, sounding defeated, had pulled off the road. I'm not sure how long she'd circled aimlessly before admitting she was...