Brooklynite Found Pt. 1

Jacob grabbed his phone, keys, wallet and briefcase, and quickly rushed out the door of his small, yet charming, 2 bedroom apartment in Park Slope.

“I’m late, I’m late!” cried Jacob, as he scurried down the subway station steps and raced towards the arriving Manhattan-bound train.

Please swipe again” appeared on the miniature screen above the turnstile.

Jacob obliged, swiped his MetroCard a second time, but was met with “Please swipe again.

Jacob, noticeably agitated, swiped a third time, only to come across the earth-shattering prompt that read “Insufficient fare.” He turned around and made his walk of shame to the kiosk, soaking in the death stares from commuters stuck in line behind him.

This is how Jacob normally begins his daily commute to work. No, not by being denied entry due to lack of funds (though the $2.75 fare is unworldly), but by willingly hopping aboard the claustrophobic shuttle we call the subway.

“This day could NOT get off to a worse start,” he muttered to himself. Jacob was late to a meeting at his office, and knew his boss would not be a happy camper.

Finally aboard the next train, Jacob could not believe how overcrowded it was. He squeezed his way in, only to be shoved further into this mosh pit by the crowd behind him. He was a sardine in a can. The train then began it’s slow, screeching crawl to the next station.

Ten minutes went by, and Jacob still wasn’t able to move an inch. “Well, it’s no use to email my boss ‘I’ll be late.’ There’s no chance I’ll get service down here.” He thought to himself. No chance indeed. For reasons unbeknownst to man, in the year 2016, there remains no cellular service in the subway tunnels of New York City (yet little Boston has service in its tunnels…)

The train screeched to a sudden halt. “Oh, what now!” gasped Jacob, as a large man braced himself onto Jacob’s hips to regain his balance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are being held momentarily due to train traffic ahead of us. We apologize for any inconvenience,” echoed the prerecorded announcement throughout the sardine can. “They don’t mean this apology. They never mean it.” Jacob thought to himself.

All he could do was think. The train was stuck. He had no room to maneuver his hands. For some reason, the large man’s hands were still on his hips. A grueling ten minutes later, the train resumed its slow crawl, and Jacob arrived at his destination. Not even noon and thoroughly defeated, Jacob lethargically sat at his desk and read the admonishing emails from his boss.

He hated this cycle and needed a way out. Not the job, which he (somewhat) enjoyed, but the daily grind of this nightmarish commute.

There was a soft ping in his headset, and a G-chat appeared from his old college roommate Kelvin:

Kelvin: Hey man how’s it hanging?

Jacob: Not so great, pal. The MTA is draining my soul.

Kelvin: Sorry to hear that. You ever try CitiBike?

Jacob: Citibike? For sure not. That’s just for tourists. And a public relations stunt from Citigroup because of their role in the 2008 financial crisis. The last thing we need is more bikes in this city.

Kelvin: Just think about it, bud. I’ll email you my offer code for a free ride.

Jacob had always wondered how Kelvin remained so slim and fit after they graduated college. He also recalled how Kelvin had so much energy at the end of the day when they would go for happy hour drinks. “Why not, I’ll give it a shot,” he said to himself.

.   .    .

Jacob made his way to the nearest CitiBike station and entered Kelvin’s free code. Using Google Maps, Jacob pre-planned his route using all the nearest bike lanes. He hopped on the bike, strapped his bag to the pannier, and began his journey.

Feeling nervous, he proceeded with caution, stopping at every red light and slowing down at every yellow. His mother did tell him that biking was dangerous. He couldn’t help but notice the experienced bikers whizzing by him with grace and expertise. He admired how they were able to time the lights, avoid traffic, and ride on without having to slow down.

Jacob started to gain confidence. He felt energized from each pedal. “Wow, what a view!” Jacob said with a smile as he took in the magnificent city skyline.

“Out of the way, a**hole!” yelled an Uber driver as Jacob drifted towards the middle of the street. But Jacob remained unfazed and continued his trek home.

He finally reached the nearest dock to his apartment, and dismounted his shiny blue stallion.

Jacob finally felt free.

He felt liberated.

He was a sardine no more.

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