End of the Line

The floor and door of the Metro. It's gross. You should be glad I took out the color.

Dang. This train is filthy. It’s past rush hour and I’m on the last car.

Who the hell thought it’d be a good idea to carpet the floor on a public train? There are stains from spilled cokes™, from ground-in egg mcmuffins®, from a dropped perfume bottle and a misplaced brush from a very shiny nail polish. There are tarry spots from gum, or another sticky substance, that became black from the bottoms of shoes and flip flops, sandals and boots, sneakers and those Dansko clogs that the ER, OR and radiology teams wear at hospitals.

Some of the boots that grind in the grime had spiky high heels or wedges. Some were tanned and open-laced Timberlands spewing street from their lugs. Some were black, steel-toed work boots with the slippery grease from a restaurant kitchen accelerating and accreting the grunge buildup on the floor.

The doors, the ones that open magically and slide into the sides of the train, are streaked with gunk. The lighter streaks are simply slightly less gunky. The windows at the top of the doors are also streaked, but with residue from palms and elbows and some cheeks and chins. There may be marks from fingers desperately trying to force the doors open as they slipped closed.

The doors open onto the platform of octagonal bricks hugged closely together by mortar. It’s odd that the mortar doesn’t show filth. I guess cement doesn’t stain like rayon. It’s funny how the outdoor platform seems to be so much less gross than the inside of the train.

There is no fresh breeze in the train cars. There are no rains to clear away the grunge. There are no melting snows. The inside of the train is inside and gets no relief from the humanity that desecrates it daily.

But I’ve been on the new cars. With the stainless steel exteriors with a hammered finish. With floors of flecked linoleum or some other surface that doesn’t spotlight blotches. With metal grips that don’t show thousands of fingers pressed in to balance against the lurching car. With wider aisles and molded rather than padded seats.

Why didn’t someone think about that before?

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