My friend, Ron, meets me at the ferry every morning and every evening. He's the man who takes my ticket and sees to it that I aget across the Hudson safely. Ron is from Newark and worked in hospitals for 17 years, most recently in Springfield, Mass (a place he describes as "too slow"). He considered getting trained as an EMT, but his split shifts running the ferry makes that impossible at the moment.
My commute is a little ardusous now, subway to bus to ferry to car. All in all about 2 hours. though seeing Ron makes it easier - he's my halfway mark. We usually chat during the ten minute trip, he wishes me a good day, I do the same, and off I go. It also helps that I love my job - it's worth the commute. Once I move to my new digs in August, I'll drive door to door in roughly half the time. I know in a previous post I said there was no way I'd drive across that GW bridge to commute. It turns out the ferry to my car isn't any less time, and actually uses even more gas (and create even more pollution) thanks to NJ traffic around the ferry terminal. The environmentalist in me can't even make a case for the ferry. I'll miss Ron.
In this week of commuting, I've noticed some curious patterns. NJ drivers, without question, are the most aggressive, road-raged people I've ever seen. I've been pushed out of my lane, flipped off, and crused at more this week than I have been in all the others years of my life combined. So as I've been sitting in traffic, I was considering why this might be.
There's some mentality about being in a car on your own that makes you think it's you against the world, or at least you against all the other @!#$%&*s on the highway in front of you. On public transportation - subway, bus, or ferry - you're all in this together. One great moving mass trying to get from point A to point B. On the NJ highways, it's anarchy and the one with the loudest horn, most aggressive style, or biggest middle finger, wins.
During my commute, I've also been thinking a lot about endings - arriving at my destination, the end of my sublet in Queens, the last Harry Potter book. Though I am looking forward to a shorter commute, I'll miss being in the mix of public transportation, everyone trolling along together. Endings are always nostalgic for me - whether the ending is a welcomed thing or not. I'm a Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, so this feeling is only natural for me. Endings are just so, final. Times change after them and no matter what there's no going back exactly the way it is right now. We can't get this very moment back, ever. In an instant, everything, EVERYthing can, and eventually will be, gone. And that helps settle my anger when someone cuts me off on Route 4 or pushes me out of my lane on Route 208. "This too shall pass....and I might miss it in some strange way."
It's amazing what we will do to make up for lost time. One reason I came back to NYC was to be near my mom after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My boss came back East to be near his family, particularly his kids who had moved here. We want to recapture time we've lost with people we love, or at the very least make a change going forward so we don't lose any more time. I feel that way about New York, too.
I rode on the top deck of the ferry yesterday - a beautiful view of the NY skyline as the sun was coming up. Give it a shot some time -- it reminded me just how beautiful our city is. I have been away for too long, and I'm glad to be making up for that lost time by being here now. If you hurry, you may even get to meet my friend, Ron. Just look for the guy with a big smile and an easy-going attitude who's grateful for his job, despite his commute (longer than mine) and the split shifts. Please give him my regards, and thanks.