Another New York Story About Daily Commute

January 2016

After exploding my head (for hours) over $7 billion that was missing from a company’s final valuation, the only thing I can think of on the train ride back home to Brooklyn is how I lost my unlimited PATH card and don’t want to pay another $90. My colleagues tell me that during tax return, I can file PATH as a deductible expense, but first, I don’t know what that means; second, I don’t know how to file taxes (and don’t have parents or accountants who would do it for me) and third, I am a legal alien. I give and give, and usually don’t get anything back.

Oh commute, my commute. I turn on “Circle of Life” while traveling towards Manhattan through the Hudson River — which to me sounds like the beginning of a nursery rhyme for millennials: Over(!) the Hudson, through the tunnel; to Manhattan we go.

With the music, I imagine my PATH card — for which I paid and extra of $5 — with the Statue of Liberty printed on it. She never looked at me, I remember her always looking at somewhere else. I am sure, she doesn’t even care that somebody else owns her right now. She just started her own circle of life- which, for an unlimited commute card, is probably a vicious circle. You get dropped and picked up again. That is the circle of life that takes many of us home.

I put my hand in my pocket and feel the unbearable lightness of “nothing”. The moment I realize that my card is missing, I run towards a PATH official. I use my theatre training on him, something that I have been using on anything but theatre lately. I give him my “tripple-worried” puppy-eyes. Maybe, I think, he will actually feel sorry for me and help me out. I already know that I am hopeless.

He lets out a big “Urgh” when I tell him about my situation. He starts making weird noises to himself, which I think is supposed to signal his empathy skills. Then, his eyes brighten up with an idea: “Well… Duh… This is not a big problem…” Okay, we are getting somewhere. “… if you have already registered your card online. You did, right?” I want to genuinely ask him: “Do you really think I look like a person who would do that? Does it look like I even know about that?” I enrolled in an insurance plan precisely just today, after spending almost 7 months without one. I had been j-walking in moderation or by embracing death. I am definitely not the patron you are looking for right now.

If you have been living in New York for a while, then you would know that a safe place -or the safest place, in fact- is the inside of your phone case. That is where my Metro Card (of $120 value) resides, but not my PATH card, because the PATH card is an actual card. A credit card type of card that could possibly break in close proximity to a phone’s magnetic waves . Those could probably break me, too, but I still sleep with it by my head. The PATH card always had a place in my bag, but I should have known that an inside pocket is undoubtedly too precarious — clearly more precarious than the high-security millimetric opening between my phone and the rigid Otter Box.

I start speculating: What would I have done if I had found a PATH card on the floor? I immediately run towards the MTA booth on 14th street, where I transfer every morning. I obviously would give it to an officer. “Hello sir,” I say, “has anyone returned a PATH card today?” He nods. I get excited. I even wonder if I would say “Yes, that’s my card” if he hands me someone else’s card. He smiles and shows me daily PATH cards. No sir, no. I know I don’t look like the type who would choose to go to New Jersey every day on her own will, but I actually do; so I need an unlimited card. I give him the puppy eyes, but this time I am not acting. I mean it.

Crossing the bridge, I remember that in our capitalist world, the best way to compensate for money lost is to spend more money. I walk into Walgreens by my stop for some chocolate; my all-time remedy. In this huge supermarket, I am overwhelmed with all the confectionery around me. It must be the Valentine’s Day coming up, I conclude. No matter the season, I will always have my own reasons to indulge.

And there it is: on one of the shelves, thirty-something, semi-fancy boxes catch my eye, all flashing the name of the company. The company whose 7 billion went missing or that I couldn’t find… I stand and wonder: Would they actually care?

Probably not as much as I care about the fallen hero of my daily commute: my dear unlimited PATH card.

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