Wednesday, December 12, 2012


My own mortality is not something I dwell over very often but today's date, December 12, 2012, gave me something to ponder.  I realized that never again would I experience a date with three identical numbers, day, month and year, as the next occurrence will be on January 1, 2101. Unless drastic technological breakthroughs regarding human longevity take place soon, most likely I won't live to be 143. Honestly, I'm OK with that. My son might make it, as he'd be right on the eve of his centennial. My daughter might have a better chance as she'd be a sprightly 94. If my wife and I are ever blessed with grandchildren, they might have a good chance of seeing 01-01-01.

I had another jolt of mortality thrust in my face this evening. In my plethora of transportation choices, this evening I chose to treat myself to a ride on the commuter train. It's a longer walk than taking the L but the ride is much nicer and quicker, besides, it was a lovely evening for a long walk. Anyway I got to the station with a few minutes to spare and there was a choir of eight year olds singing "Little Drummer Boy" which made me very happy. The happiness was short lived as I discovered there were massive delays in the service. In the words of the railway, there was a "trespasser fatality" on our line. In other words, someone stepped in front of a speeding train.  Now lots of thoughts go through one's head hearing something like that, I always think first of the poor engineer who is entirely helpless to prevent the tragedy. Then I think of the people who are forced to witness the event. And yes, I think of personal convenience. "Couldn't that person have been a little more considerate and at least taken his or her life at a time other than rush hour?"

I made the decision to backtrack and take the L after all, as no one knew for sure when the trains would start running. The L ride was miserable, people jammed cheek to jowl in every car. There was a near altercation on the platform as a young man chased down a middle aged woman who happened to bump into him. "Are you fucking serious?" was her response. Happy holidays to the both of you I thought. When I finally got off the L and passed the commuter train tracks, there was a train stopped. It had to have been standing there, full of passengers for at least two hours.

Anyway, when my uncomfortable commute was over I couldn't help but think about the poor soul whose life ended this evening as it turned out, at the very station where I would have gotten off that train. I got home and hugged my wife and children extra hard. It was kind of like that scene at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" when Jimmy Stewart returns from his brush with non-existence and realizes his own miserable life isn't so bad after all.

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