Andrew is on the 2-train to work. After traveling up from Bensonhurst, a 20-minute ride, he switched at Atlantic. Now it's going to be about 35 more minutes and he will reach Times Square, where he works. One hour each way. Two hours each day. Two hours in a cramped train, plus an additional eight hours at a monotonous, unchallenging job. Andrew works as an administrative assistant at a major financial firm. Working as crap-taker, as one of his friends put it. It's not THAT bad, but it's pretty bad. Sitting there the whole day dealing with the annoying things your executive doesn't want to deal with. Nit-picky, organizy, and monotonous. Five brain-frying days a week. But it makes money.
Unlike a couple of years ago when Andrew used to work as adjunct English professor at a CUNY school. That was ridiculous. A position they want you to have a master's degree for and more than five years of experience, but nobody wants to pay you. That was leading nowhere and his family's financial situation had greatly improved since Andrew had given that up and began working as an admin full-time. He and his wife have two children. Two children in New York City. What had they been thinking? Andrew softly shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head to accompany his interior monologue.
He is sitting next to oblivious commuters like him. Bad air and a view as far as the groin of the person standing in front of him. At least he has a seat. It's not that bad. He's making more money now and his wife is contributing a full-time salary as well. Like this he feels far removed from being a writer, though. He used to have a lot of time to write. That has changed. Five work-days a week scream for complete recuperation on the weekend. Work, relax to be able to go back to work, exhaust yourself again--and then the children. He is hardly able to find time to write, hardly able to feel like he’s still a writer, the way he felt when he had been in college. It's not that long ago that he could live off of crappy food, enjoy quiet, free afternoons and meet with the other writing students to talk pretentiously about what they wanted to achieve with their writing, how they wanted to influence the world.
The train has made it to downtown Manhattan where it's passing all the high income stops. Andrew sits right next to the door. At each stop he has to watch out for passengers hurriedly squeezing into the car--swinging their handbags, backpacks, and elbows only inches away from his face. Then, a brief pause. Just one single commuter steps through the door--only to be followed by the crowd continuing to nervously, carefully, and decently shove again. This strange occurrence remains in the outskirts of his perception while Andrew swirls in the stream of his memories. As the passengers settle into their uncomfortable traveling stance, the doors close and the train departs.
He probably has made some bad choices in life; taking out a student loan to study English. Wanting to be a writer, but at the same time wanting a wife and a family. Maybe you can't have everything; a family, money, and doing what you want. Maybe being a writer will always be just a dream.
Andrew feels something, but it stays low and quiet. A turning ball of sadness and anger, very irresponsible and hazardous. He knows it’s not part of his life anymore. It used to drive his writing. Now, it just sits there, among the many other feelings and Andrew keeps it quiet. Thinking about the ball he realizes that the one person who stepped through the door singly at the stop just before is now standing about 6 feet away from him holding on to a pole and all the other passengers are keeping a distance almost in reverence. He looks at the person and after a second look he recognizes Olivia Wilde. A little startled he tries not to stare at her. While the train was snaking through TriBeCa she must have snuck on at one of the stops. He looks away and goes back to the default stare in front of him. The ball instantaneously and inevitably grows bigger. Andrew feels it turning. Steady, uncontrollably. He tilts his head back until it hits the metal wall of the train. He feels the vibrations of the rattling wheels. Monotonous and discomforting. They hammer angrily into his skull. He lets it hurt. Andrew closes his eyes in this one car in which he, the other passengers, and Olivia Wilde are traveling and waits until he reaches Times Square to get off and go to work. Eight hours each day, two hours each way.