Monday, October 06, 2008

Mr Grumpy Takes The Train

Mr Grumpy had to get into the office on time this morning. That would mean peak time for calling a taxi here in Disneyland WTDP. Hard one to get taxi, lah!

Calling a taxi early would also mean several extra charges on top of the actual per/100m fare. In non-peak times, since the price changes last year, Mr Grumpy's typical taxi fare to work is $12. Before the price "rationalization", it was about $8. With the $3.50 booking fee and a$2 surcharge for this, and 30% surcharge for that (Mr Grumpy has long since ceased trying to figure out the reasons behind all these surcharges) a peak-time taxi ride from Newton to Harbourfont Centre could be as much as $16.

However, taking the train would cost $1.10, plus a short bus trip at 90c. Decisions, meh!

One downside of the bus/train combo is that he has to walk some distance. Mr Grumpy has sore feet. Mr Grumpy has had sore feet for a while and even an expensive and complications ridden operation didn't make Mr Grumpy's sore feet go away. It made them sore in a different way.

This is not the reason that Mr Grumpy is grumpy, but it doesn't fucking help either.

Mr Grumpy hates walking because of his sore feet. But as Mr Grumpy has been spending shitloads of non-insurance-refundable money on a series charlatans and shysters who prod and probe, squeeze and squash his limbs in farcical attempts to relieve his pain (therapy based on whatever mystical hogwash they were trained to believe causes all illnesses), he is financially inclined to humour them in that maybe he IS getting better after all. He must be, otherwise why would he continue to spend all that money? It only stands to reason.

Every now and then Mr Grumpy tries a positive attitude on for size.

As Mr Grumpy took the 47 types of pills and herbal anti-oxidants concoctions that are supposed to be doing something to relieve his pain and cure the root of the problem and purge his system of "toxins" and make his hair grow (it is only working on nostrils and ears so far), he looked at himself in the mirror. He turned on the nose-hair plucker and made the decision to take the freaking train this morning. He can walk that distance without exacerbating the pain, he really can! Yeah, right.

Now, now, let's not be cynical! We're with you, Mr Grumpy!

Bus, OK - it's not raining. Train, crowded beyond all shite. About 8 people alight through the door in front of him at Little India Station but this seems to make no difference to the density of the crowd inside. It's like everyone else expanded just a little to absorb the gaps. Parkinson's Rule of Commuter Trains.

Mr Grumpy ignores the seething demons of hell that inhabited this carriage trying to prevent his entry through their sheer numbers and just walks on at his usual steady pace, briefcase on its shoulder strap, with the resulting momentum of a heavy man, as if nobody was in front of him. Remarkably the expansion effect has its antithesis in an absorption effect and he melds into the crowd with imperceptible ease and almost immediately finds himself by the central pylon where three curved hand-holds linked the floor and ceiling. There are about four layers of people between him and the doors, but he is wedged now and can no longer move. By the time the doors are closed and the train starts to move, he is fixed in position, as if the super-saturation of commuters has set into a unbreakable crystalline formation. He has a grip on the pylon's hand hold. People around try to tumble down due to their inertial resistance but they are held up in position by the crystal matrix effect of bodies around them.

Everyone on the train has headphones on. Mr Grumpy himself is listening to the rock band Audioslave:

I've been walking the sideroads

I stare straight into the sun

I don't know why people are dying

Long before their time has come...

As the train approaches the main Orchard Rd interchange at Dhoby Ghaut where 75% of these people would get off, Mr Grumpy feels a tap on his arm. He opens his eyes. Who is disturbing this quality time with himself, and WHY?

A man on the other side the central pylon indicates to Mr Grumpy with a nod of his head and a raising of his eyebrows that he would be alighting at the next stop.

"Well, hoowee!" thinks Mr Grumpy.

This unreasonably tedious request makes Mr Grumpy quite grumpy indeed. OF COURSE the man is getting off at Dhoby Ghaut. EVERYONE (well 75% of everyone) is getting off at Dhoby Ghaut. Mr Grumpy, not being a sheep-like follower, is planning to NOT get off at Dhoby Ghaut and indeed to find a vacant seat for his continued ride down to Harbourfront Centre once those 75% have departed the carriage. But there is nothing he can do about it NOW. He is wedged and crystallized in place. If he couldn't move at all to maximize his own chances of obtaining a seat, how could he do anything about someone else's issues? The man who had indicated that he wanted to get off could get fucked. What could Mr Grumpy possibly do? How could he do anything? He couldn't get out of the way; there were people all around him. He couldn't try to slide around and exchange places with the man as the central pylon was between them. What the fuck did the man want him to do? What the fuck did he expect?

Mr Grumpy wondered later if the man expected to be told to fuck off. Probably not. But that's what happened. Mr Grumpy thought later also that he showed remarkable restraint in not punching the guy several times in his great fat ugly face as well, but that would have difficult due to the confinement of his arms by the crowd.

Stupid person. Mr Grumpy shows an exasperated face to the man, mouths the words, and turns away to pointedly ignore him.

The train shudders to a stop and people not holding on nearly fall, but again they can't break the matrix. As Mr Grumpy had predicted, about 75% of everyone gets off at Dhoby Ghaut, including the stupid (now offended, his entire day ruined) man, without Mr Grumpy having to move an inch. As they slide around him and continue to file out the door, he feels the pressure ease, feels himself expanding to fill a certain proportion of the gaps now available. Then Mr Grumpy is easily able to out-maneuver an elderly, blind cripple to the last of the newly available free seats. He closes his eyes and sits back, listening to his music:

I walk the streets of Japan till I get lost

Cause it doesn't remind me of anything

With a graveyard tan carrying a cross

Cause it doesn't remind me of anything

I like studying faces in a parking lot

Cause it doesn't remind me of anything

I like driving backwards in the fog

Cause it doesn't remind me of anything


The things that I've loved, the things that I've lost

The things I've held sacred, that I've dropped

I won't lie no more you can bet

I don't want to learn what I'll need to forget

These words make Mr Grumpy feel a little bit better, make him feel a weight has been dropped. He does not know what the weight is, doesn't even know what the fuck the words mean. Maybe it's the music...

While Mr Grumpy walks up from the train through the platform and along the corridor to the escalator that leads to Harbourfront Centre his feet continue to give pain. This is no big deal, they ALWAYS give him pain. He is constantly aware of his feet. It's enough to turn a Mr Nice Guy into another Mr Grumpy.

But then his toes start to fire off brief electrical spasms. The big toes especially rage into a numbness that burns, like instant frost-bite. Each step he takes past the HFC shops cracks this ice and spurs fire into the depth of the bones. Ow. Ow. Mr Grumpy hates walking.

Mr Grumpy should have called a taxi and then everyone would have been better off, especially the Lee Kwan Yew family (aka The Singapore Government) who own the taxi service, and certainly those innocent bystanders in the commuting world who would feel less offended and depressed, and maybe a little less grumpy too.


Next story in this series: Mr Grumpy goes to the Newton Circus hawker stall for a cheap, quiet, fresh-air, mind-his-own-business dinner. Oh what fun!



savannah said...

take cabs, sugar! ;) xoxo

re: recent comments, sorry, sugar, no idea what's up with that little widget! now i don't even remember where i found it! *sigh*

Dick Headley said...

Hobble on. Sorry about recent emails. The intention was good.

expat@large said...

Sav: someone must be working on this. The one I found has horrible fonts.

DH: Hobble on casualty :-) Dude, emails! You know about that restraining order, right?

savannah said...

wait, that restraining order against me was lifted, wasn't it? ;) xoxo

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