beyond the bus run

In school, there was a certain kind or respect for the bus run. There were different kinds of runs: last bus, morning bus, in between class bus. In Miami, there was the it-only-comes-every-thirty-minutes sprint. Heart pounding, feet running in the widdest stride,faster than your regular jog or treadmill session. For the bus run you get a fire of adrealdine under you, you push it out; the only that maters is getting on it. And if it goes well, as you find yourself bounding up the stirs, chest heaving, hairline beads of sweat, you feel this … ultimate sucess.

Seoul though, has given a new dimension to the bus run. Evolved.
The last train run.

It starts simply. Maybe it’s 11.15 at night. Maybe it’s 11.30. You excuse yourself from the night of debauchery – the coffee shop or mall, the bar or club, the gallery show. Purposefully, you walk towards the subway station. There’s no reason to look at the time again, as it just gets later and later. You walk with purpose, maybe with your chest a bit out, eyes straight ahead.  Here, the trains stop at midnight or soon after.

As you arrive at the station you bound down the stairs quickly, but still collected.  On the way to the turnstile you go over the transfers you’ll have to make, the exits you want. The second you beep your T-money and break through, the second you find yourself in that gate, the heart quickens. Every sudden rush of noise, any sound of distant whistles that warn of the approaching train will make you jump, rush, pound down.

It’s no problem to make that first train, but it’s the transfer that brings you to your knees. At every transfer station, people will sprint out of the cars: old ajjuma’s, drunk girls in heels, businessmen, silly foreigners. The stations are huge, tangles of staired passageways layers underground. There’s a thrill in the air. This is it – the faster you move, the harder the fight, the better your chance is. Miss that transfer and you’ll be at the mercy of the taxi drivers, haggling over fare prices in an unknown station.

Last night, at my transfer station, the subway masters had closed the gate at 11.45, before the last train had come in. People clamored around the gate, angry mob, pointing at their watches and yelling. Some gave up, exited the station. The last train comes in 11.49. Even if the gate opened, you’d have to run like the devil was behind you to catch it.

The gate opened. Flying down 6 flights of stairs, wind in my face, purse unwieldy and thunking madly against my side, flew flew flew. As that train whirled into the station and I slid into one of the many empty seats, there was so much satisfaction. So much … love – love for getting what you want. I look at the other women who had run with me, and I feel a connection. Here we are, alone at night, in Seoul. This is where we live. This is where we run. This is where we are.

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2 Comments»

  Sarah wrote @

Oh, do I empathize. I now have the “Shit, I’m going to be late for work if I don’t catch this damn train!” run. It starts with speed-walking down Park Street, glancing nervously at my watch as the hands creep closer and closer to 9:30. Then, inevitably, as I’m walking down the last block before Beacon Street, I hear the hum of the train and the clanging of its bell and I watch it slide past me at the end of the street. But I still have one short block to go on Beacon Street before I reach the platform. I break into a run, praying that the light on Beacon Street will be red so that I can get across. But even if it is, once I reach the platform I’m still not quite there, because the train stops at the far end of the platform and I’m already gasping for breath by this point, having sprinted this far. As I run along the platform the train starts to close its doors, starting at the back, which quite unfortunately is the direction I’m coming from. So I keep running, alongside the train, watching helplessly as the doors in front of me close one by one. And if I don’t reach the frontmost and last-to-close door in time, the train sets off, gliding away down the street as I yell after it, “NO! WAIT! I’M RIGHT HERE! DAMN YOU!”

And then all my desperate running is in vain; I have to wait ten minutes for the next train, and consequently am late for work.

Sigh.

  Yoon wrote @

I love busride, but I hate Subway ride, especially in the morning


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