Today it’s easy. I’m straight on and have a prime standing spot. Where I board, remaining on two feet is almost obligatory.
The bing-bing-bong sounds and two doors slide somewhat jerkily towards each other. I register the comforting bump of rubber kissing rubber.
Some days it’s like that. Calm, relaxed and with the added benefit of personal space. Other days it can be backpacks, shoulder bags and the occasional challenging odour. One thing’s for sure, the journey always has a hint of unpredictability about it, yet at the same time, it’s entertaining. I can easily lose myself in the heady mix of people watching and taking in the world outside.
Somewhere else in the city a failed armed forces drone pilot has been a little too heavy-handed on the joystick and I’m forced back against the glass screen. That sudden change from motionless to purposeful movement that results in people resembling stalks of wheat swaying in a breeze. The familiar hum of acceleration gives way to harsh white-noise. It’s time to take in my surroundings.
Inside it’s a mix of middle distance stare, daily papers, dominant white ear buds and the occasional ‘beats’ by Dr Dre, wrapped over a nodding head. I scan the carriage, hoping to catch sight of someone engaging with life. It’s not to be, expressionless faces and heads bowed to the gaming gods are all I see.
Outside a silver disk is still visible but is giving up its reign, being replaced by a palette of blue, white and red. Below is a trail of metal bugs, rolling along like a form of mutated caterpillar, no two parts of its long body matching.
My gaze travels along the ruled lines of roads, past houses and towers to the natural world. Rising in the distance are those captivating, sugar sprinkled mountains. My heart rate slows, my chest rises and falls at a relaxed pace. There really isn’t a better sight in the morning. I’m infused with awestruck and a sense of peace. The din that surrounds me has unconsciously been turned down from ten to two. Warmth rises from deep within me and escapes through my open mouth. All too quickly my trunk starts to strain, wanting to keep itself upright, fighting the deceleration. The failed drone pilot is busy playing with his human cargo. Bong, and a disembodied voice announces another stop. The soundtrack is paused and doors slide open. Middle distance stares and nodding heads leave for who knows where. Replacement ear buds and backpacks shuffle into the confines of the carriage. I briefly get close up and personal with a sheet of thick black polyester mounted to someone’s back until the wearer manages to turn ninety degrees. Swish, thud, sway and we’re off to the next stop.
I play the inside/outside game for a few more stops. The doors slide open and although I want to rejoin the world I’m confronted by a paparazzi like crowd blocking my path. With a deep breath I broaden the shoulders and assess whether it’s a ‘hit the ten-pins’ or a ‘parting of the seas’ morning. A pathway appears and I’m off.
This is my morning ride. Although the route is repeated, the differences can be subtle or dramatic. Today was a good day, but there are times when the world outside is grey. On those days, clouds can envelop me within the carriage as I long for the uplifting sight of those mountains. Life is more bearable when the day starts with the Lions in view.