Complaints Dept.


After a lovely weekend at home with Brenda, my Monday morning commute reminded me of how much I hate my commute. It’s not anything that Disney is going to be packaging into a ride, that’s for sure.

Without boring you with all the gory details (again), I’ll skip to one of my favorite parts of the trip, the escalator ride from the platform to the concourse level. On this escalator they have installed some tinny, low-fi speakers, from which a friendly man implores you to exercise caution on the escalator:

Welcome to Amtrak’s Pennsylvania Station! Please exercise caution, when using escalators. Hold handrails, and exit promptly, upon reaching the landing. Welcome to Amtrak’s Pennsylvania Station! Please exercise caution, when using escalators. Hold handrails, and exit promptly, upon reaching the landing. Welcome to Amtrak’s Pennsylvania Station! Please exercise caution, when using escalators. Hold handrails, and exit promptly, upon reaching the landing.

Welcome to Amtrak’s Pennsylvania Station! Please exercise caution, when using escalators. Hold handrails, and exit promptly, upon reaching the landing.

It’s like a verbal Chinese water torture. And you’d be amazed at how many people can hold the handrail, yet can’t quite get the hang of the “exit promptly upon reaching the landing” bit. These are the same people who, on the ride up, elect to stand there, delighting in the fact that modern vertical transportation facilities like the escalator have been invented, so that they don’t have to bother walking up the stairs. No, they can park their fat asses on the escalator steps and focus on breathing, and what to have for breakfast. This, of course, lengthens my ride on the escalator and ensures that I’ll have to hear “Welcome to Amtrak’s Pennsylvania Station please exercise caution when using escalators hold handrails and exit promptly upon reaching the landing”, more times than necessary.

Today, as I rode the second escalator—this one from concourse level to street level—I heard a ruckus erupting at the top. Now, at the top of this escalator is a rather large vestibule that offers a bit of shelter from the cold, so it’s often occupied by one or two homeless folks. But today, a bunch of people were in a group, while one of them was attempting to address the group as a forum. He was holding up a bottle of clear liquid, and weaving. Clearly, he was about to sum up his recent address to the group.

And then, he spoke: “I must be out my muh..fuggin’ mind!”

Mmmm. Me too.

Eastbound on 31st street, a spring entered my step. I looked forward to seeing if the rat would be there. You see, a building is going up on the next block and the contractor is using non-union labor. Therefore, the trade unions send a bunch of guys down there to stand around, clog up the sidewalk, read the Daily News or El Diario, talk sports, leer at women, and intimidate the offending non-union laborers—the rats. As a soaring icon to their cause, the unions posess several large inflatable rats which they park in front of the rat jobsites. Apparently, there are a lot of rats running around, because the inflatable rat only makes an appearance once in a while. I miss the rat when he is gone, as he has a lot of character.

Anyway, just as I noticed that indeed the rat was on the job today, a woman behind me said to her companion “oh, the rat’s here today! It’s a fine day on thirty first street”. In that moment, I realized that I am not alone. There are other people out there that see the stupidity of this city, and are able to laugh it off, and I took great comfort in that. I turned to the couple and said “where in the hell do you go to GET a large inflatable rat, anyway?”, and the guy says “I don’t know, but you can bet they’re union-made.” Oh, how we laughed.

What’s my point? Do I have to have one? Just a little bitching for my Monday lunch hour. Thanks for listening. And by the way, these guys can handle all your large inflatable rat needs.

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Rob Guglielmetti Profile Picture
Rob Guglielmetti

lighting simulationist, crossfitter, former drinker.


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