When I lived in the next town over, I took a train that got in to the lower level of Grand Central. We would all trudge upstairs to get to the grand concourse or whatever it's called -- the main part of the terminal. You were an ant in a line, next to other lines of ants, with some man or woman's ass in your face as he climbed the stairs in front of you, and all that implies. It felt kind of 1984, although I haven't read that novel in a couple of years, so maybe I've got the message wrong.
Now I live in the town next to the next town over, and there's a different train that gets in to the main level. You get out of the train and go on your way. You don't feel like Winston. (Or O'Brien, depending on your job.) Just those 60 seconds you save not going up those stairs anymore, along with that sense of conformity and confinement, turn out to make a world of difference -- perceptually, anyway. And I guess that's what I'm wondering. Am I a blind chump, thinking that my day is materially different for forgoing that one minute that used to start it? Or is a large part of life genuinely these little differences?
3 weeks ago