I need to get out of here. I’ve been working too long hours, farmed out to a satellite office (Chicago? Schaumburg?) for work that isn’t mine. It’s maddening, frustrating but there’s a little extra money involved and I don’t want to let anyone down. But it is time to leave, the last train will be leaving the station soon and I have already spent too many hours here, setting up monitors that don’t quite fit on the desks, entering passwords that never get accepted on the first try.
Grabbing my bag and making for the exit, everyone trying to stop me, everyone has something that they want to say; advice, conversation, compliments, gripes, apologies — no one simply waves a hand and says Bye. I have got to go. There will be another train. Not tonight there won’t.
Eventually, I force my way past one last conversation (a feel-good-news-type story about a co-worker that learned to figure skate on the stumps of his legs that he lost in the war) and slip out onto the street, running full-speed through the twilight. The realization hits me that I always get lost, every time I leave this office, I go too many blocks in one direction, too few in another; I always wind up at the wrong station. And now it’s dark and I have even less of an idea of where I am. Still, I run through the dark avenues (where are the street lamps? the only illumination are the headlights of cars and the traffic signals), twisting and turning. There are so many cock-eyed intersections: odd diagonals, walking the wrong way up a one-way, hairpin turns up and down hills, foot-bridges over four-lanes of congestion… Dodging can-collecting derelicts, I find the correct street (noting the sign for the train station) and jam (at last!) into the stations, whipping out a fare card that has apparently only been used once. The station is no less of a labyrinth than the streets and I break through locked doors that never latch, jump over jammed turnstiles, nearly trip down a broken escalator… Racing against the clock for a train that’s never on time anyway.