As Cobb County contemplates investing in mass transportation, I cannot help but recollect the pleasures I took in riding the New York City subway when I lived up north. More specifically let me relate the incident that convinced me it was time to live elsewhere.
When I was finishing up my doctorate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, I had moved to Brooklyn where the rents were cheaper. But in order to get to and from the school, which was located in Manhattan, I had to use the subway.
One day as I enter the train I was greeted by a fellow with a boom box on his shoulder. He seemed to be playing this radio as loud as he could, but since he was an intimidating soul, no one objected.
Then a few stops later another guy, with an even larger boom box, got on at the other side of the car where I was standing. Within moments the two were playing dueling radios. The cacophony was instantly deafening, but again no one said a word. We were all too afraid of being assaulted by these apparent ruffians.
So there I stood in physical pain, aware that I might have to bear this discomfort for more than an hour. No wonder that shortly thereafter a refrain began to play in my head. Over and over, I found myself repeating the phrase “There has to be a better way to live! There has to be a better way to live!”
Not many months later I left the city—never to return. Indeed, in moving to smaller cities and eventually to the suburbs, I did find a better way to live. It seems that there were more civilized corners of the universe than the one in which I came to maturity.
Now I live north of Atlanta and must use my automobile to commute to and from work. This means that some days I get caught in traffic. But when I am, I thank my lucky stars that I am not standing in a subway car having to endure the pain of someone else’s unbearably loud music.
Mass transportation may make sense on a theoretical level, but I’m not so sure that it does in terms of personal comfort.