I passed through the current of human debris and emerged into a less crowded corridor. Impatient commuters huffed angry sounds of agitation as they stomped around an elderly woman frantically pushing a squeaking, squealing walker ahead of her, tiny sounds of fear drifting from her toothless mouth, eyes panicked and desperate. A blind man tapped a vicious warning tattoo on the stone floor, swung his long, supple white cane to and fro at the feet of the oncoming army of drones, clearing his path with vindictive deliberation. Groggy, I yawned and rode the escalator to the street above, and came out into the crisp snap of cool morning air. The clammy slap of slipstream as the doors parted to the outside woke me a little, circulated my blood and reminded me of standing on the deck of a ferry crossing the San Francisco bay, though the smell of salt mist and brine was replaced with exhaust fumes and wet asphalt. Taxis immersed in dirty brown water nearly halfway up their tires stood alongside the curb in a miniature lake. The tiny ocean stretched from corner to corner along the front of the buzzing hive of the train station, and I perched a brow in curiosity at what caused the deluge. I lost interest a second later.
The manic press of people on the street struck me as unusual. It’s Monday, and Mondays are slower, less populace than other days. I always assumed masses took Mondays off from work, either by hooky or by request, to recover from weekends spent indulging in the great pastime of The Big City: drinking. Today, not so. The hoard of suit-clad, heel-clicking automatons rushed along the streets. I stepped aside at the tramp of running high heels, and a petite woman threaded through commuters and slalomed to the corner, thwarted by the streetlight. I waded into the mob behind her a moment later, her dance of anticipation and frenetic toe-tap wearing on my nerves. At last the light changed and she bolted like a thoroughbred racehorse through a starting gate, click-clacking away down the cobbled and pitted concrete sidewalk.
Everywhere as I strode, determined to neither rush nor tarry, there seemed an extra urgency, an added sense of worry and agitation. Everyone seemed to move faster, to push harder to reach their unknown points of arrival. Their journeys stopped intersecting mine at last when I found a gap between clots of them. For some reason, despite being stalled at another streetlight for a few minutes, none of them overtook me on their way in my direction, and I never caught up to those ahead of me. I never do. I never want to, truth be told. I walked in solitude with an unobtrusive companion of breeze chilling my face and reminding me of a place I’ve not seen in years.