From My Post Road Window / Nicholas Troilo

Minor inconveniences

I sat on the train ride home frustrated. The day had started with my forgetting to grab my money clip. Since both my cash and my credit cards were on the clip, I had to rush back home to get both. I knew for sure I'd miss the train if I didn't hustle.

But I didn't want to hustle. The previous day had been tiring and I wanted my normal morning commute routine -- drive to the station, park the car, stroll to the platform, position myself for the train, answer e-mail while I wait, train arrives, politely let the ladies on first, take my seat, command my position, nap.

I had an 11 a.m. appointment which works fine for my senior fare -- $5.75 one way on my 10-trip web ticket. I knew exactly were I was going in New York for my meeting so if the train is on time, even a little late, I would have time to use the facilities at Grand Central Station, walk to Fifth Avenue and take the bus to 31st Street where I had a meeting that I anticipated would take two hours.

I didn't want to hustle but I did. I actually was at the platform, money clip with $62 and credit cards in place, a few minutes before the train. The train that morning was crowded. Now I've become pretty smart about spotting the conductor's receipt that indicates a commuter is getting off in Stamford but I didn't spot one that morning. And no matter how politely you ask someone to move their things so that you might squeeze into a middle of a three-seater, you always get a look of resentment. I never care about the look. I always take a seat. I never stand unless the only seat is between two who are eating something fried for breakfast or look annoying or have an unpleasant odor. Then I stand.

But I sat that morning and napped and the train was on time and I used the men's room and I walked to Fifth Avenue and I took the bus and I was at my meeting 15 minutes before we were to begin and everyone was efficient. We were done in 30 minutes and my next meeting wasn't until 4:30 p.m.

I had time on my hands.

I went to lunch by myself. Over the years I become an-almost vegetarian. I try to follow the rule "If it swims, flies or grows from the ground." So I headed for a Japanese place on 40th Street near the New York Public Library had some brown rice and some vegetable tempura and what I thought was a vegetable cake but which turned out to be a meat cake which was pretty disgusting so I didn't eat it.

Then I was off to the New York Library third-floor reading room, one of my favorite New York City places. I had some research to do. But this was the October day last week when the temperature broke a record and the air conditioning was going full blast and after two hours -- it was still not yet 3 p.m. -- I couldn't take the chill.

By now I was feeling like a misplaced person and I had two more meetings for the day -- the 4:30 and another at 8 p.m. The 4:30 meeting, at 60 Madison Ave., was just next to Madison Park so I headed there, sat on a park bench and read.

The meeting didn't go well. "I've had it," I thought and I headed home.

Just outside of Rye the train lost power. The air conditioning stopped. The lights went off. I remembered the last time the train lost power and we sat for an hour interrupted by squawk box announcements that the power would soon return and it didn't. I fumed expecting the worst. I reflected on my day. The frustration built and I started the "why me?" questioning and "there is no god" and "I've got to change my life." I filled my soul with self pity.

I bonded with my seat mate who just wanted to get home in time to tuck her daughter into bed. I worried for the middle-aged man not coming from somewhere but going somewhere for a job interview and wanting to be on time. I wondered if the elderly woman would be calm while she worried about making her connection. The minor inconveniences of life were inflated into life-changing events.

Then my cell phone vibrated. It signaled an e-mail from my son. "Dad," it read, "some prayers." And he wrote about a business associate whose son at college in Florida had suddenly started hemorrhaging and lost two-thirds of his blood. "The doctors can't identify the cause. Say a prayer."

The lights went back on. The air-conditioning hummed to life. The train powered up. I crossed myself, sat back, prayed and thought of the unimportance of the minor inconveniences of life and how lucky I was to have them.