For the past month, I’ve had the privilege of riding the W line from Jefferson County Government Station to Union Station three days a week. I’ve learned a lot about the people of Denver in this time, and maybe if we all took the train, everyone could learn something about each other.
I recently started an internship at an office in the middle of downtown Denver. If I were to drive, it would take me ~40 minutes with rush hour traffic. Instead I elect to take the light rail. It’s about a 15-minute drive from my house to the station, a 40 minute ride to downtown, and then a 10 to 15 bus ride to my office. By taking the train, I’m wasting my time by spending an extra 40 minutes to an hour commuting by train per day. To me, however, the extra hour wasted is worth it as I don’t have to drive in the trainwreck that is Denver at 9am on a weekday. Instead, I can relax and read a book, listen to a podcast, or just zone out.
But the most overlooked part of taking the train is being with your fellow commuters. Some of them take the same train that I do every day. Sometimes it’s good to see a familiar face, even if you don’t know them anymore than that. But sometimes, other commuters are memorable for other reasons. On the way back to Golden, this one passenger boarded with a baby stroller covered with a blanket. After the train departed, she reached into the stroller and removed a ferret. It had a neon yellow collar and was attached to a leash. She let it crawl around for a short while, before putting it back into the stroller. She then proceeded to remove another ferret, this time with a neon pink collar. I’m sure where she was taking her ferrets, maybe to the vet, maybe to a new home, maybe just on a nice train ride.
When I get into a traffic jam while driving, I tend to dehumanize the other drivers. That black Chevy Tahoe is just that, a faceless SUV who cut me off. But on the train we’re all humans. The lady with ferrets is just as much a human as a the businessman I see everyday at 8 AM, the high school student who gave up his seat for a disabled woman, or the transit officer who let the construction worker by when he struggled to produce a valid ticket. It’s good to be outside the bubble of your car every once in a while, even if you have to put up with your fellow man.