“Did you work out today? I was on the treadmill forever.”
Hmmm, well not officially, but…
I wake up late (alarm? Are you alive?) and am forced to skip the coffee before sliding into a skirt and top for work and lacing up my sneakers. I walk briskly out the door twenty minutes late but still feeling efficient, at least until I have to run back in to grab my forgotten heels and an umbrella -because it may be a million degrees outside but everybody knows Rome is a tropical city nowadays.
A quick run to Circo Massimo and I make the mistake of thinking, well this was easy, I’m going to sail right onto the metro and get to the office right on time. The turnstiles are blocked no matter how many times I scan my card and there are no guards on duty (who puts guards on duty during rush hour?) that can wave me through so I take a few steps back and vault over. The people behind me clap and then follow my lead, and I’m sorry if I have incited revolution but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
I squeeze myself onto the packed metro and try not to breathe while the lady behind me is screaming at a person I’m fairly certain is her husband until she threatens to tell his wife about them and everybody listening to them discreetly looks away. I insinuate myself through the yelling teenagers and spot the little boy trying to stick his hand in the purse of a tourist. I give him a stern look, and although his position here is as indigenous as mine, this doesn’t make me exempt from his wiles; I am not so arrogant that I don’t double-check the drawstrings on my bag. He shoots a grin at me and I try not to smile back, but keep semi-glaring until he at least leaves the tourist alone.
We all disgorge at Piramide and I take the stairs two at a time. If I really run, I won’t miss this train. The hallways are packed and I shuffle as quickly as I can, reaching the bottom of the platform just as the train thunders into the station. I twist my mouth in annoyance. Do I catch the next one? It’ll probably be late. I sigh and launch myself up the flight of stairs, trying desperately not to push anybody over, clinging to my manners although everyone else seems to have forgotten theirs. I catapult myself in between the closing doors of the train, sweat pouring down, and am I the only human on this train that put on deodorant this morning? The air conditioning kicks in and before I can do much about it, the cold freezes me in my tracks. I sing the Frozen song under my breath, because I may as well. There are no seats, but a man with a kind face scoots over so I can look out the window, and we briefly exchange smiles. The next stations are even more crowded than Ostiense had been, and despite a full house people somehow manage to shove themselves on, glaring. A ticket controller tries to get on, realizes he wouldn’t be able to move through the crowds, catches a few mutinous glances and does a smart about-turn on the platform.
I pop out at my stop and try to maintain a semblance of dignity by trotting instead of full-on galloping the rest of the way into the office. I vault up to the second floor, fly into my seat, change into heels/brush out my hair/charge to the bathroom to wash my face/reapply my lipstick/turn on my computer, all before the clock strikes 9:30 and I make it into my meeting just in time, grabbing an espresso on my way in.
You know what? They say it’s an urban jungle out there.