When I’m not with a guy I walk to work with from the train, I observe the people around me on the train and the surrounding areas such as the train stations. It gets you really thinking about people.
I take the train to Philadelphia from the suburbs. I get into my typical station a little after 6 am and have close to a fifteen minute wait. On the way to Philadelphia, I observe the riders to the city. Because I’m on the train a little after 5:30 am, it’s very quiet but very full. Most people work in the Philadelphia hospitals, work in big business in the city, or are construction workers working on those big businesses. I’ve grown to know some of the regulars. An older man typically sits near me that’s originally from the Pittsburgh area and a lesbian couple that are both in construction are usually in the same car as me as well. The older man typically asks me about my job and how I’m doing at school. The women typically talk about their current jobs and how much their backs hurt from heavy lifting.
My connecting train can be picked up from four stations (30th, Suburban, Jefferson, Temple) in Philadelphia. I typically get off at Suburban, but occasionally do get off at 30th. Suburban feels much bigger and much more alive.. in good ways and bad. There’s always the workforce getting their coffee at Dunkin’ and buying their tickets at the window. Homelessness is a very big problem at the station though. Especially before 6:30 am. Often times you will find people sleeping on benches and woken up by transit police and others are in the restroom washing themselves in the sink. Sometimes I walk in and see nude men washing themselves. Other times, homeless people fight eachother. You wonder how these people got this way. I once asked a guy and he said one word: drugs. Most times, the homeless won’t bother you. One time, I had a homeless man reach under the stall for his hat, but nothing super weird other than that. The station is all decked out for the holidays and even the homeless are in a better mood than usual.
After encountering the homeless, I go down the platform to catch my second train of the morning. It’s typically very quiet. You’ll see a homeless person or two getting woken up by the transit police but generally it’s just commuters waiting for their train.
The second train I ride typically operates as two open cars and occasionally just one. I always encounter the same crabby woman with a spider tattoo on her neck who insists there should still be a quiet ride car no matter how few cars are open because she “needs her quiet time”. I typically only deal with her for one stop. She’s always in an awful mood and tries to make everyone else miserable too. I get off at a questionable little stop. It has no office and just a little overhang to stand under. Often times it smells like pot and there are usually broken bottles on the tracks. Occasionally, I’ll see the smokers (nicknamed the pot boys) and they will just look at me. They are pretty harmless. I also occasionally hear gunshots in the distance and because of that, I try to wait less than 10 minutes.
A ride on SEPTA and visiting their stations is always interesting. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.
The top story is the time four young boys brought folding chairs and a poker table and sat on the tracks around the table. If my friend wasn’t there to witness it, I don’t think anybody would believe that story.