This year I have been lucky enough to have a law tutorial every Tuesday morning at 8am; for someone who takes over an hour to get from his house to university, the thought of this is quite distressing. However, I save myself half an hour every morning by hitching a ride to Remuera with my mother and then catching the train from there. This is not as easy as it sounds, however.
The train I catch arrives at around 7:20, though it can be early or late, whichever is the opposite of the one which applies to me. We leave home at around 7am and the traffic is usually moderate to heavy. The great thing about the trip is, if we are running late, the train actually overtakes us and we have to catch it up. It's not quite a movie chase scene but driving along the motorway next to the train can be rather dramatic!
Normally the train passes us by Ellerslie, but each time it has to stop it loses valuable time in the chase. On the motorway, merging traffic at on-ramps significantly slows down our progress, but once we get past the Greenlane on-ramp, we can zip into the left lane which goes all the way to the Market Road off-ramp. Hopefully we will be back in front of the train by this stage, because it's not just as simple as getting to the station before the train. I have to get out of the car!
This operation can only be described with the help of a diagram, which I have included here (click to enlarge). Coming off the motorway, there are several options but most of these are only viable if there is no traffic around. The safest of these is to go around the corner, past the next set of lights and then pull over there. However, this then requires me to go a long way back to the station, including crossing in front of the cars coming off the motorway. This is not ideal if in a hurry. The next option is to turn the corner and hope the next set of lights goes red, so I can safely hop out there and easily walk to the station. This is rare however.
The most dangerous option is to get out at the very first set of lights, cross to the left side of the on-ramp, cross the left flowing lane and then the right flowing lane of the road and down to the train. This is a very direct route, for the times when I really am in a hurry. And yes, I have successfully completed this manoeuvre, the only time I tried. It was fairly impressive, I managed to cross all three lanes without having to wait for traffic and got to the train with time to spare. Of course, if I miss the train, I have no idea how I would get to university. The next one is half an hour away and who knows about buses? I keep meaning to check just in case, but never do.
Anyway, that's just getting to the train; the train itself is another story. It is usually almost full by the time it reaches Remuera, that is to say all the seats taken up with a few people standing. What is most remarkable is the atmosphere; it's like a ghost train, filled with the souls of the damned condemn to ride this journey forever. In a way of course they are, though they get the weekends off. It is very strange though, because I have never felt this feeling on any other train but it is regularly the same on this one. It is deathly quiet on board and it seems like pairs of eyes are boring into your skull while you are looking away. I wonder if these people, most of whom will have been on board for some time now, resent the fact that I only have a short trip on board? Whatever it is, it's pretty creepy!
So every Tuesday morning I make my mad dash to the station to board the train of the damned. Thankfully the journey is only about ten minutes; I'm normally a bit afraid to sit down in case they take me and never let me leave. It is with a sigh of relief that is disembark at Britomart when the train arrives, normally far too early for my tutorial so I end up sitting around for ever. Maybe the early morning start and the fatigue of university life makes me imagine these things? Or maybe this a localised recurring phenomenon, which threatens my life on a weekly basis only for me to thwart it? To be honest, I'm probably more likely to be hit by a car on the way to the station. But that's just life!