Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hard Times

It's Friday Tangent Time. Y'all have been warned.

A train ride on regional rail is mostly dull. People get into their newspaper, their handheld, their laptop and 95% of us don't talk, especially if it's an early hour or a car that isn't cramped and jammed. If it's late and/or packed, you might get some grousing or jerk moves, but it's just a grind commute; it doesn't need a lot of chatter. It's actually kind of nice, in that you can, as I do, get some work or reading done.

The last 5% will teach you something, as anything will, if you give it a chance. (Mostly just patience, but hey, take the teaching and move on.)

What has happened on my train in the last week has been a lot of guys drinking from brown bags. Well dressed guys, who don't seem entirely comfortable with drinking in public like this. Drinking because, well, they are scared senseless by what's been going on in the economy, specifically the markets and how it relates to their continued employment, and need something to take the edge off. (And yes, it's been far from a random occurrence. So far this week, I've seen a half dozen people in this boat. It's A Movement.)

This is, of course, as unsettling as you want to make it, but on the off chance that you are somehow reading this blog and thinking that life is more or less peachy, that no change is needed, and that times are not bad... um, not so much.

Hard times, are, of course, relative. The people who are downing brew or stronger at 6pm on a weekday as they wonder who in the office will be shown the door tomorrow -- assuming, on some level, that it wasn't and/or won't be them -- don't appear to be starving, or deprived of electricity, or at any real danger of being sold into slavery. By the standards of, oh, 90%+ of the world's population, they're doing swell.

But that doesn't mean that today, and this week, is a hell of a lot more worrisome than last, or the month before that, or that they've got any real hope that the holidays this year will be one to remember fondly. Or that retirement and all of the other things that people hope, plan and work for haven't just entered Commode Land.

In times like this, you can put your blinders on, focus on the work that's at hand, and try to ignore the feeling that you're being led to the killing flood. Or you can drink on trains and become paralyzed by the process and the fear. Neither choice is all that encouraging, really.

Or you can do what I do, and think too much about how to fill the bloghole, whether your NFL picks are sound, and who you should play in your fantasy football leagues. Ah, sweet sweet distraction, my own personal 40 ounce body bag...

1 comment:

Tracer Bullet said...

I do the same, but I had to switch to pints because driving with a fifth of whiskey was just too complicated.

Ads In This Size Rule