Thursday 08 Dec 2016

Riding the Rails
AJ Robinson

Years ago, living in Arlington as a kid, I used to ride the bus and subways all the time. This was back in the days when kids could do that without mom or dad hovering over them. Yeah, I know, how I survived, I’ll never know. Anyway, it was pretty cool because it gave me freedom when I wasn’t yet able to drive. In recent years though, I haven’t done much of that. I’m older, I have a car, and I’m living in Orlando, Florida, which doesn’t have a subway.


We rode the storied Green Line, in Boston

As a side note, when I took my daughter to Boston University to look the campus over. We got to ride the Green Line and several other of the Boston Mass Transit System. It was a wonderful stroll down memory lane.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Just recently, I started a new job. I’m back in my old profession: civil engineering, and I work for a firm up in Maitland. It’s not a long distance to drive, but – during rush hour – the traffic is pretty heavy. That means my commute time is rather long. Then, just the other day, one of my co-workers mentioned that one of the stations for the new SunRail system was literally right across the street from our office. He lamented the fact that the line didn’t go to Kissimmee yet, as it had just opened. So, as he lived down there, he couldn’t use the system to get to and from work, which he wished he could. His drive time was considerable.


A co-worker said SunRail would shorten my daily commute.

Yet, his words got me wondering: just how extensive a system was there? Where were the stations? These days, what with the Internet, it was an easy process to find out. There was a station just about due east of our apartment. In terms of total commute time, it wasn’t going to be much of a savings. However, in terms of ease of travel, having a relaxing ride, and saving wear and tear on my car, it was going to be great. So, the other day, I drove on over to the station and parked. It was nice and clean, gleaming and new – not at all like the old well-worn stations of Boston. Getting a ticket was easy enough: I just followed the instructions on the touch screen to get a round-trip ticket, and then got on board when the train arrived. It too was clean and new, and had a double-decker set up. Naturally, I had to go to the upper level. Sitting there, checking my email on my phone, I gazed out at the cityscape.


It was so nice to be able to relax and take in the view, see old Florida homes.

It was glorious. Yeah, there were empty bottles, crumpled papers and bare patches of earth every once in a while, but it was so nice to be able to relax and just take in the view. I saw old Florida homes, businesses, lovely yards, and countless people bustling about on the streets and sidewalks. When I arrived at my station, I got off, crossed the street, and was at work on time. Then, at five, I did the trip in reverse. The setting sun gave a soft warmness to the city’s skyline, and it was a time for me to decompress from the day’s work. By the time I arrived at my station, I had again checked email and voicemail, replied to everything, and even played a game on my phone. The drive home was quick, and I’m sure I used practically no gas. At this rate, I won’t have to fill my tank more than once a month!

I’m looking forward to continue using SunRail. It’s very nice to be able to not just do something that helps me but also benefits society at large. My car won’t be adding to the congestion on the streets. My C-O-two won’t add to the Climate Change problem, and my car will last longer. All in all, a win-win situation all around. It’s also kind of nice to be doing something from my childhood, as most such activities have faded away.


Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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