In Essays

A Dear John to the Port Authority by Maria E. AndreuFor everyone who has commuted via mass transit into New York City.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Port Authority, I don’t like how you’re treating me.

Let’s start with the way you talk to me. When I hear your infernal chimes, I know you’re about to unload something insincere on me . I know what’s coming. I know. You only ever say one thing to me anymore. “Ding, ding, ding. The Port Authority is experiencing heavy volume, leading to delays. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” Closing ding.

Thank you, Lieutenant Obvious. It’s not like I had noticed the heaps of humanity deflating around me, marinating in our own sweat and frustration as precious minutes we’ll never get back with our families tick by. Like the guy ahead of me, a prim-looking Asian man who keeps turning around and showing me his ticket and the incongruous white outline of a puma on the front of the crotch of his jeans.  Or the woman behind me, who sighs loudly and stares absently at the picture of a toddler on the screen of her phone.  Or the 2,000 other people on the line to my 55-seat bus.  We make our way down the stairs, past the Cinnabon, then back around, through to another terminal, each nursing the private wrongs you’ve done us.

Port Authority, I know there are delays. And I know that you’re not sorry about them, because sorry means a willingness to do things better next time.  Sorry means “It won’t happen again.”  Sorry means, “I’ll change.”  But you won’t change.  You just keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting me to take it, cocky that I won’t leave you for some other transportation hub.

Port Authority, if my town approves that light rail station it would make your head spin to know how fast I’d dump you.

It’s not just what you say, but the way you say it. That Nurse Ratched tone that barely masks a threat to smack me down if I consider anything rowdy.  That infernal mental ward music.  I’ve seen your dudes in camouflage and machine guns.  Not cool, Port Authority.  Not cool.  When did we turn into Tel Aviv?

There used to be a time when you and I had fun, Port Authority.  Like that time 20 years ago when my girlfriends and I snuck in to the city in stretchy miniskirts and hooker boots brandishing our fake ID’s and our high hair. Remember the homeless guy who asked me to marry him that night?  The pimps that the nuns in my Catholic high school used to warn me would sell me into white slavery? The guys who used to whisper, “Nickel bag, nickel, nickel,” as I walked by?  That was before Giuliani and Disney changed you.  I barely recognize you now with your Au Bon Pain and your Jamba Juice.  We used to have something, but now it’s dead under the weight of your Muzak and your posted threats to do bad things to me if I take your picture.

Port Authority, I really want things to work out between us.  Get your act together and get your buses in on time.  Get some rap stars to record your public announcements.  Show some personality.  After everything we’ve shared, don’t make me go negotiate a work-from-home arrangement on you.

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