Living in NYC, there are a lot of people who commute from many different cities, from Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and even Long Island. I have taken the train many times because I grew up in Long Island and go back once a month. Let me be clear though, when I say train, in this instance I am not talking about the Subway, I am talking about the Long Island Railroad.

Now, keep in mind, I only started taking the LIRR for 2 years, but I have noticed a lot of different things. For example, waiting at Penn Station, watching people rush to their trains as if they were all runaway brides trying to escape! Frankly, it can be pandemonium! Well, not quite that level, but it can get quite palpable at times. From my experience, I was at Penn Station waiting for my train back to Westbury. I was about to learn that speed and alertness, will be the key to getting on this train on this day!

photo by Louis

I believe the train I was waiting for was 5:40, or close to it. Little did I know that was a really bad time to go back to Long Island! The thing is, I got there really early and had at least 20 minutes before the train arrived. I thought I had it made in the shade as the kids say.

If you don't know Penn Station, let me fill you in... There is a big digital screen that shows all the arrival times and the track the train will be arriving on. Everyone is staring at these screens as if they were watching a close game and they had parlay bets going on all over the place! Not really, but you get the idea!

I am watching the screen like a hawk waiting, and as time ticks away I am seeing more trains come in and people taking off like a bat out of hell! I see my train is still not here and I am getting a little nervous. It is now 5:30 and the train is still not here. Now, I am starting to sweat a little bit! A few minutes pass and my train is still not here. Now I am getting pissed! I finally see on the screen the train arrived at track 16. It was now 5:34 maybe, and I am thinking, surely the train won't leave right? I mean it arrived late and now I see hordes of people book to the track and at this point people are running into me, pushing people, it was mayhem!

I am desperately trying to advance to the track, but there were just way too many people and I was moving so slow, like a tortoise! It was not by choice, I just could not maneuver my way through to the gate. It was kind of like being at a really crowded bar and you need to make your way to the restroom, but you just can't get there because of all the people. I kept trying to push through, but my efforts were moot. It became clear that I was not getting on this train.

It was now 5:40 and the train left! The reason for the chaos? One of the tracks was closed, which I did not realize until after. Suffice to say, I was not a happy camper! Unlike the subway, the LIRR does not run every 3 or even 7 minutes. I had to wait another 40 minutes or so for the next train! Oy vey! At this point, I am livid and said to myself, okay, I am not screwing around, so when this next train comes, I was determined to get on it no matter what!

This time I got a lot closer and was laser focused on jetting to the track. Luckily, this time, it came a little earlier, but with the track still closed, there was a plethora of people. I was almost running, but not quite. I was very aggressive at this moment, pushing people forward and just kept my feet moving, like a running back, I was not going down! I pushed my way to the stairs and flew down like "The Flash". Not that fast, but you get it! I still barely made it on, but I did make it... The train was so freaking crowded I had to stand up the whole time and that was not comfortable for a 43 minute ride.

In conclusion, if you are at Penn Station around 5:45 on a weekday... You better be a lion because this den is full of tigers and they are out for blood! Okay, that was a little too much, but you do have to be alert and ready to run or power walk to that track. You need to know the outlay of all the tracks and never take your eyes off the screen, otherwise...

       — The End