Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On commuting

You can hear the trains rattle by from my bedroom window. At night it's the long, rambling freighters heading up the eastern seaboard. Destination: Baltimore and points north.

But in the morning the tracks belong to the Metro trains and their payload of shuffling, half-awake commuters glancing at watches, flipping through The Washington Post Express and tapping smart phones. For the non-commuter, or the new commuter, the daily migration into the heart of the District is a great opportunity to people-watch.

Maybe it's the tension of the forced co-mingling of thousands of people who want nothing to do with each other, people pretending their driving in to work themselves or still in bed or in a private train car. In reality, they're squashed together like a can of sardines jostling one another with every dent in the rail.

Still, they try. If you squint hard enough you can see the shimmery, translucent light of the "personal space" shield surrounding them. Occasionally, they'll try a diplomatic overture, like "this is my stop" or "get out of my way" before hurtling past you in a vain attempt to squeeze through the Metro doors before they slam shut.

And sometimes the world intrudes on their carefully crafted personal zone. The Great Swine Flu Scare of 2009 may have faded out of our collective consciousness months ago, but you can still spot pristine white and hospital scrubs blue medical face masks tied on here and there on the morning Metro.

There's a whole wide world of people and stories out there. You can find them all on the Metro

It's better than television.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Under Construction. Fines Double in Work Zones.

In the next several weeks this blog will undergo some changes. While I've enjoyed using "North of the Border" as my blog's moniker for the past two years, I'm no longer a resident of the great state of New Hampshire. In fact, I'm much further south (though renaming this site "South of the Border" would be disingenous, though logical, because that name has already been taken by a ghastly tourist trap on Route 95 in South Carolina) to Silver Spring, Maryland.

I've also left my freelance gig with the New Hampshire Union Leader. So using this site to expand on my day-to-day coverage is no longer possible. Hence, expect a format change in the near future.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to use this space for as I get settled in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., but rest assured it will not remain empty for long.

Until then, I'll be trying to come up with a clever(er) title.