When I started riding the train, I was a missing fanny pack, camera, and an opened map away from being a complete tourist. I was lost. I was scared. And,it was very very obvious that I did not belong. New riders stick out. They aren’t on their cell phones, they aren’t staring at the ground or checking their watch. They have their train tickets in hand, just in case it is ticket check day. They stand near the schedule, and check it five times. They double-check by asking the most approachable person they can find. They make eye contact with panhandlers. They will get on the wrong train at least once in their first week.
My first day of work, I missed the the 5:25 am train and brilliantly decided that I would just pick up the train at the next station. Furthermore, since the train moved faster than the legal speed limit (I can’t afford to pay for tickets, so I do not speed), I missed the train at the next several stations. In a quick re-routing decision I decided to pick up the train at the transfer point in Dallas, where I would just ride the DART to work, no worries.
I parked my car, figured out which train to get on- thank you kind, approachable people who only mildly laughed at me and rolled your eyes twice. I got to work, I survived day one, and I even made it back to the transfer station. Success! I got in my car, and went to leave and I realized- oh no!!!! Wait, it was not a success – they have locked all of the gates!!! I couldn’t get my car out of the parking lot! I roamed around aimlessly in a panic until I find a nice worker and ask him how to get my car out of the parking lot. He laughed at me and said, “You’re not from around here are you?” I smiled a very guilty smile… I might as well have been wearing a neon sign “Newby rider alert!!!!” . He shook his head, laughed a lot, and said “small town girl moves to the big city, come on I will let you out.” It wasn’t a DART parking lot- but the gates were open at 6 AM! OOPS!!!! ***note to self!!!!
He saved me, and he was right, I was a small town girl in the big city. (I still AM!!!!)
This morning I watched a timid newby rider curl into the corner seat of the train and try to disappear in to the window. I remember that feeling well. I didn’t want to be in the way. I felt like a guest in someone else’s home. I didn’t have a place. I didn’t know anyone, and further more, I really really don’t like strangers!
People watching has saved me. I learned to see the humor in the things around me. I learned to share it with you. When I meet train newbies, I always think back on that day not very long ago, and I remember what it felt like to have no idea where I was going or how to get there. I relied on people to be kind when I needed to ask a question, and for the most part, they were. I try to be kind and gracious to newbies. I try to smile at strangers, say please and thank you, and good morning. Even though in many many ways, I am still scared out of my mind.