Have you every taken a commuter train at rush hour, especially when they have a lot of trains arriving and departing and you are not sure of the train you have to take?
At the station I used to use the information boards in the main concourse where they make commuters wait and the ones at track level have a lot of information on them but at track level, the boards are more up to date than those in the concourse. Not sure why.
Often, well most of the time, information isn’t displayed in the concourse until a few minutes before the trains leave. When it is, there is a mad rush to the stairs and an even madder rush at track level, as the concourse stairs are not evenly distributed along the platform. People rush along the platform trying to get to the point in the train best suited for the station they get off at.
Those waiting for later trains have noticed the dangerous crush that takes place and stand behind pillars or close by concession stands so as to be out of the way. They take small side bets on who at the front of the concourse rush will trip and fall in their haste to get to the stairs and track level.
One particular evening, I had to find my train as I had left later than I usually and did not know which of the track level trains was the one I should take to get to my stop.
I think I know which is my train, all the doors are open and a few people are already in it, seated. All good signs, but not a guarantee those on the train actually know much about the train. Soon I will lean a lot about the difference between habit, hope, and belief.
There is still no information posted on my iPhone app, which is generally a 10-15 minutes ahead of the official notice boards at track level and which are ahead of those in the concourse.
I stand at the doors to the carriage; I speak to the first person sitting close by.
I ask whether this train is the one I am looking for, I provide the departure time, and the stop I need the train to stop at and the end destination, three things that will conclusively give me the correct train. He is sitting munching chips, reading his Kobo; he has taken his coat off. All very positive signs he knows he is on the right train, if the train terminates where I ask it is a long ride and you need food, comfort, and something to do.
His reply is that he hopes the train is the one I am asking about and goes back to reading and munching. Obviously there is no further information to be had from this guy.
I am a computer guy, bits and bites, zeros and ones, these things do not allow for hope; they are black and white, no shades of grey. Tonight is not an evening for hope; I need certainty so decide to leave this hopeful person to his dreams.
I move along the carriage to the second person
In the next carriage is an equally comfortable person, another man! Why not a woman, they are usually good at knowing things.
He looks up from his magazine, he has not graduated to a Kobo he is still a print consumer, print is black and white, I hope he has certainty in his life. Instead there is a void, he looks at the train carriage interior, he looks at his seat number, and to him these are all the things that make this train go to where I ask.
Another person, I repeat my questions.
This man looks at his watch without answering; instead he asks me what time it is. I check my watch and tell him the time, which causes a problem for him. He looks like a child that has just pooped his diaper. I forgot to deduct the five minutes I add to “real time” to ensure I arrive at my meetings early, it is a comfort factor to me but to him it is stressing him out. I explain what I do to modify “real time” And he adjusts his watch.
I persist in questioning him about which train this is, he thinks for a moment, or maybe two. I can see why he was five minutes late at his last meeting, especially if he always thinks at this speed. The sad thing now is he has put his watch to the time I gave him, it is now reading correct time, not the five minutes ahead he thinks it is.
He finally says that yesterday evening; the train on the track we are on now around this time went to the destination I speak off and made stops all the way but he doesn’t know what those stops are. I tempt fate and ask him if the stops were actually periods of intense slowness and leave him puzzled as to the difference.
I breathe heavily before speaking to another on the train.
He expresses his knowledge about the train he is sitting in as dreams and hopes, again.
I have never expressed my desire to get to my destination in terms of dreams.
Well, yes in a philosophical sense I dream I will have a million dollars, and that I will not have to take a train downtown anymore, I dream that I will find someone who knows where this damn train is going. It could be going to Hogwarts for all these people I have spoken to know. Now that is a thought…
So, finally I pick the carriage I usually sit in on my regular train, the third carriage from the front and as far away from the passengers I have spoken to as I think I need to be and take a seat close to the door. I do not take my coat off; I do not unpack my laptop or anything else… If I need to leap from the train as the doors close and the destination is announced, I can simply stand, push people out of the way, duck and roll off the train before the doors shut.
There are many things in this world that we do out of habit, habitually is the correct term, we do them without thinking, and we express ourselves in terms of hope when asked by a stranger about our decision because somehow to admit we have done something out of habit like these fellow passengers feels like a challenge.
We hope there is a parking space close to the entrance to the store; we will drive up and down the isles of parked cars looking for that magic spot that is hiding between two big pickups. We rarely find it because we just hope.
We do not have the belief that a space will be provided for us, try asking your guardian angels, they are always there for you; they just need to know what it is you want and then have confidence in the belief that it will be provided.
I learned that night that I had forgotten to ask for what I wanted, and in so doing I had forgotten about believing the request would be answered.
Have belief and ask your guardian angels, they are always listening.