Saturday, 27 February 2016

Packed People



Rush hour on the commuter train packed people barely move, most of the time.  They clutch their phones, wiggle their thumbs, and flap their lips ... but they hardly ever really move.  Blurts and snatches of mangled one-sided conversations mingle together to create a nerve-jangling, free-for-all.  In my mind I imagine, multilingual channel surfing ... inside an enormous tin can ... hitched to a caboose ... rattling over train tracks ... loudly ... X 10.  Mercifully, from time to time, the clamorous machine whooshes to a stop.

Then, and only then, people begin really moving or trying to.  All decorum is observed, as the intricate process of extracation-slash-debarkation takes place.  In crawling steps, the “exiters” inch their way through a sea of expressionless faces that block the chock-a-block aisles.  Everyone is careful to not let slip, any hint of haste or annoyance.  Everyone scrunches a bit, so as to be seen, I suppose, as being as accommodating, as possible.  The air is filled with “excuse me’s” and “pardons” as folks take to contorting themselves into a myriad of poses and positions to allow passengers to pass… or migrate, altogether, to resettle into the coveted emptied out seats.

That done:  new "boarders" squeeze in – if they can.  This is where, the thin veneer of civility begins to fall away, yet again, as some of the newbies holler out: "PUSH BACK", while others groan in resignation, as they plaster themselves to the door – which closes, finally, after several attempts, seconds before the train lurches out of the station and everyone commences or continues, occupying themselves with their smart phones.
 
rush hour    
on the commuter train 
packed people
talk amongst themselves ...
happy to be left alone with their phones
  

note:  a tanka prose piece posted for Poets United.
.
photos:  Little Green Apples – W. Bourke
Sky Train at Commercial in Vancouver – W. Bourke 

© 2016 Wendy Bourke

23 comments:

  1. In spite of provocation ( anxiety and haste) the folks restraining themselves is quite civil. "Everyone is careful to not let slip, any hint of haste or annoyance." This is not easy and neither is managing that 'alone time' in crowd. Man is truly a superman. Courtesy the mechanical device. Love the Tanka summing up the whole process.

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  2. This is such a perfect description of those rush hour commuters. It used to be books that kept people occupied before the phones. Since I only rarely travel this way it feels exotic... I wonder if the screens make us travel on our separate journeys while moving... Great haibun.

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    1. Since the advent of cell phones, I think most commuter/readers are hard pressed to compete with those phones - at least during rush hours - and I have noticed the books slowly disappearing from the trains ... kind of sad. As with most technology, it often is a case of something gained/something lost.

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  3. A great description of a rush hour commute!

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  4. Put like that our daily life feels almost ridiculous - a morning ritual that means everything and nothing..i like the idea of trying to stand out to be a green apple amidst the grey..smombies is the word of the moment i think - i suppose it's a variation of being lost in your head..which can be a good thing..it makes for good poems ;)

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    1. Thanks for the "smombie" heads-up. Had to check out the Urban Dictionary to discover that a smombie is:

      A person walking around unaware of his or her surroundings, entirely absorbed in their smart-phone.

      Love it!

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  5. A vivid picture of something I'm glad I no longer need to experience!

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  6. The boredom of mixing with others in the city. The more we band together the less we have in common. Strangers in the depressing urban jungle.

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  7. Very impressive picture poetry of crowds at rush hour - so many lines I particularly like but if I had to choose its the clamour and annoyance of "multilingual channel surfing ... inside an enormous tin can ... hitched to a caboose ... rattling over train tracks ... loudly ... X 10. "

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  8. I have been on those packed trains during rush hour ...squeezing in...hanging on a rail. I don't know how they use their phones and hang on at the same time.

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  9. Indeed a poem of today's world. I can feel the crush of the people. So interesting to me that despite all the people standing in one's midst most people exist in their own world with their cell phone as company, totally ignoring others. I must admit I don't blame them though. Sometimes I have been happy to have the companionship of my cell phone...waiting rooms, long flights, etc.

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  10. Love your deep observation of people commute, such details and feel of tension and inevitability of progress...such a paradox of being together people, but in same time each inside his/her head/thoughts/calls-to-make. ~ Really enjoyed!

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  11. You have described it to perfection. My last few trips to the city, I found bus and sky train difficult to manage, especially dragging my suitcase.

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  12. I would Hate to do this everyday. I believe every word of what you wrote. Wouldn't it be funny if everyone at work on their smart phones were writing this poem?

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  13. This brought memories of my early years riding the subway in New York - people packed like sardines, not always as civil as you describe, and we had no cell phones then. I hope you don't have to experience this daily.

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  14. I like the sensation of 'sound' that you manage to create through your words, for example in choices such as "he clamorous machine whooshes to a stop."

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  15. Loved the observations you have here Wendy. When I am on the train, I try to see what's up with the travelers. Most of them are focused on their phones. I miss the times when everyone say hi / hello to one another. Everyone's a zombie now.

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  16. Well covered. An interesting phenomenon I have observing also...even some old bucks like me.
    ZQ

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  17. hahah very apt and the truth of these days!

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  18. ah well, that's what i am doing every time i need to go to the city centre, otherwise i take the buses. the smartphone is now an extension of every commuter. it really is a trick balancing on a moving train and texting/facebooking at the same time.

    good details in the haibun, Wendy. enjoyed reading it. :)

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  19. Seems I'm always behind in my blogging these days, Wendy - sorry.

    Observant as always: you've captured all the pertinent details about rush hour commuters! Coincidentally, on a poetry (tanka) forum just this week, a member posted a poem about a bus rider having no room to get her smart phone out of her purse. (Can you believe it, but I have no smart phone myself.)

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  20. Crowds are not my thing, ha. I would be among those to lose myself in reading something on my phone for an escape from the throng. Excellent capture.

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