Irish Rail really should think carefully before taking epoch-making, Earth shaking decisions. Take for example the one they made this morning and announced at 8.53 to the normally mild-mannered commuters at Coolmine Station. ‘We regret that, due to (something garbled) the 8.53 train to Dublin Connolly has been cancelled.’
Just like that. Cancelled.
Instantly (or almost instantly, as soon as people had conferred over the meaning of the horribly distorted message), the mood of the cohort changed to dark, forbidding anger.
Some looked at the ground, shaking their heads as if to cast off the gathering confusion and bloodlust. Some glanced skywards, bidding the risen Christ to supply the believers (presumably only the believers) with a CAF 125 or a heavenly host of track inspection vehicles to which they might happily cling en route to their respective workplaces.
Still others cursed the railway, some referred simply to ‘them’, the shadowy cabal of conspirators convening daily to delay the Dublin commute.
Some of us walked, lynch-mob style, to the station, to self-righteously collect our respective €1.80s or €3.60s. Many sought to raise bloody retribution for the affront to our collective dignity, but some of us, my newfound band of brothers, quelled the mob with emollient banalities. ‘Could be worse’, ‘Ah well, these things happen’, ‘Once in a blue moon’. One of our number tried to be a hero with his over-elaborate ‘a change is as good as a rest’, to be shot down by dark, reproachful glances. We lost a good man today.
Our refunds demanded and clutched from The Man, we trudged out of the station, to a scene of human tragedy and desolation. There is nothing more pathetic than people disposessed of their chosen form of Public Transport. Nothing touches the heart like grown men and women, lost in a cruel world, struggling to find reason or direction in their lives. Some still anguished over the reasons a good God could have to cancel their train. Some ruedtheir decision not to leave early and get the 8.37.
We marched a full six minutes to the first bus shelter we could find, but found no shelter there. We waited long cold, exposed, wind ravaged moments for the 37 to Hawkins Street, boarded and took our seats.
Gentle reader, I would like to say that the tragedy ended there, that all was well and the commute ended peacefully, but I must relate the disgust on the faces of the regular bus passengers as they glanced their new busmates, and the disbelief on the faces of the train commuters. I must tell you of the torment deep from the souls of the people who normally sit on the top deck, now forced to stand downstairs.
I wish I could tell you that we behaved as guests on the noble chariot as it winded its way to our destination, but we did not. The thrill of sitting on the commute overwhelmed some, who were carried away by the adventure and committed heinous crimes, such ad putting bags in the aisles and closing the ventilation windows.
The commute of ignominy ended as it began; abruptly, without warning and enveloped in a gloom of doubt and confusion. We stood as one beside the bus and asked as one: ‘Now where the fuck is Hawkins Street?’.