Locomotive sardine cans, at least that’s what I call ‘em. Packed to the brim at peak
hour, almost a hundred different thought processes in every coach at once. A vehicle
with such a massive deficit of windows still lacks ventilation at this point. People
hanging out of doors, in between coaches, and the more extreme: windows.
Anything to get to where they’re going, to make something count. Elderly ladies and
men who have been working since they were young enough to speak
students and scholars
the onboard hustlers with food
candy, peanuts, fresh fruit
we’re spoiled for choice by their plastic bags and cardboard shelves
the list of personas and occupations stretch longer than the vehicle itself
Getting in these machines mid-morning is a war. People blocking the doorways in a
desperate attempt to maintain ownership of the spaces they had to squeeze
themselves into. You can see the rage in the faces and eyes of those forcing their
way through the human density that surrounds them completely. Discomforting,
claustrophobic frustrations arise from the anxieties of not getting off on time.
Simultaneously, those on the outside trying to get in have a growing impatience to
get in and move forward – it’s a now or potentially never situation.
You’d think that a form of transportation, that reflects how old and outdated it is
through its form and lack of punctuality, would harbor a sense of patience in the form
of its operators. You’re either in safely or riskily, or not. It’s a gamble. The15 second
window can turn into 30, sometimes the can snake is perpetually parked in an
infuriating state of delay for minutes to even hours on end. It’s worse when this
occurs in awkward purgatories that require a journey walk to civilization.
How much does a ticket cost? For me, R9,50 to get from point A – Z. Some don’t
see the point in spending money on a service more limiting than progressive,
consciously running with the risk of imminent incarceration by highly inconsistent
security guards and police officers. Switching coaches like outfits, creating
alternative cost-free exits that accommodate the “fuck this system” mentality that
evolves with every missed appointment, every missed class, every hijacking of time
that could’ve been more constructively spent. Even I feel like R9,50 is better in my
pocket than spent on the yellow and grey, screeching ancestral dragon that is the metro.