Thursday, November 10, 2011

Typical Monday through Friday

In the morning, at eight o’ clock, two alarms go off. The clock is next to his bed, and he reaches over to stop it, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. The radio is in the hallway, just outside the bedroom door, and he comprehends it to varying degrees.

Sometimes his wife is up before him, but usually not. He gets out of bed, finally, usually before nine. He makes coffee and takes a shower. He brushes his teeth and gets dressed. He packs his lunch and makes a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. He fills a coffee cup and a thermos with coffee, adding enough milk to make it cool enough to drink quickly. He sits by the front door and listens to the radio news, eats his sandwich, and drinks the cup of coffee. If his wife is up, maybe they talk, or maybe she’s in the shower.

If he’s planning to go to tae kwon do that night, he takes his uniform, which is hanging from the radiator in the bedroom, folds it, puts it in a plastic sack, and packs it in his backpack. He gets ready to leave, puts on his shoes, speaks with his wife, kisses her, and goes out the door. If it’s raining, he takes an umbrella. If she’s up, she locks the door behind him, otherwise he takes his keys and locks it.

He steps outside and picks up the newspaper. He stops by the wall in front of his building, sets the thermos down, and puts most of the newspaper in his backpack, except for the front page. He sets off for Reservoir.

Walking down Sutherland Road on the right side, he may encounter some other people, but usually there are few, because most have already gone. He passes several other apartment buildings on his way. Often, there are workmen at one building or another, unloading things from their truck. Maybe he can hear them speaking Spanish to one another.

When he arrives at Cleveland Circle, he’ll try to walk straight through. Half the time, it’s not hard to do, since half the time the traffic is running across Beacon Street. Even if Beacon has the light, they might all have gone. Sometimes he stands and waits. This crossing is a convergence point from several directions, and more people seem to arrive from along Chestnut Hill than from Sutherland. Sometimes he sees someone interesting here, and can watch them until they all arrive at Reservoir.

At the other side of the Circle is Reservoir, but before he gets there he passes his dentists office. He owes the dentist money. He thinks he might have a toothache, but he’s not sure. He wonders if you can give yourself a toothache by focusing all your attention, and the tip of your tongue, on one healthy tooth. His mouth tastes like metal sometimes, since he got all those fillings last summer.

He arrives at Reservoir. It’s random. Sometimes he’s just in time; sometimes he’s just missed it; sometimes he waits. If he waits, he watches the people accumulate. Most of them he doesn’t recognize, but some he does. The people trickle in, then arrive in a wave when one of the buses arrive upstairs, then more trickle in, then the train arrives. He always tries to get on first, on the very back door. Usually he manages to be one of the first.

Unless he’s really late, there’s probably not a seat. He stands or sits, finishes his coffee, reads the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and people crowd on the train. More get on at Beaconsfield. He stares at people when he thinks they aren't noticing, but he assumes everyone else is doing the same thing. He compares nose shapes between two people. He tries to find two noses that are most different, and two that are most similar. He looks for noses that look like his. He is ceaselessly amazed by the irrational variance of noses.

More get on at Brooklines Hills and Village, but some get off there too. At Longwood, half the train gets off. Postdocs, doctors, students. Most of them are Asians.

Station by station, he gets closer to Government Center. Sometimes they make everybody get off at Park, and get on the next train. At Government Center, he always tries to be the first person off the train, out the back door. He can usually do it. By the time the train gets to Government Center, which is the last stop for the D train, there aren’t usually many people still on board.

If the escalator is open, he walks up and out of the station. If someone is standing on it, he curses under his breath and runs up the stairs. It’s a narrow escalator, no room to pass someone who’s just standing there. If someone is just standing there, they might clearly be a tourist and he forgives them. If they're looking at their phone, he sneers. He wonders why the others all line up to stand quietly behind, when he knows they all really want to climb.

Outside is Government Center, City Hall, the Federal Building. The plaza is bleak and impressive, every day. He walks down Cambridge Street towards Mass General. To cross Staniford, to get into the Institute, he usually dodges through traffic stopped at the light. He enters the Institute through the front door now, since his office moved to the other side of the building, and the receptionist always tries to talk to him about the weather. He doesn’t slow down, though.

He goes up the stairs to the second floor, down the hallway by the human resources offices, past the elevator and the second floor wetlabs, past the conference room, across the bridge to 2West, takes a right down the hall by the driving simulator, past the little kitchen where he microwaves his lunch every day, past the meeting room, past the restrooms, take a left, through the research assistant office, says good morning to Jackie at her desk, steps into his office, sets his backpack on his desk, hangs his jacket on his chair, sits down, and wakes his computer.

Andrew has gone to work.

1 comment:

  1. his wife is determined to get up earlier than him, most of the time, from now on!