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By Paul Bendix

Joy to the...Churl

Uploaded: Dec 11, 2013

Don't be churlish...that is my point...but it's hard not to be at this time of year. It's seasonal. Hopes soar, human behavior plummets...and somehow, from one year to the next, I forget this.

Why is there a midday queue at my familiar service station? How can the woman in front of me park so askew that she takes up two spaces? I don't want social psychology. I want action. Now.

Deck the halls...hit the deck. I want to know why, after the rush hour is over, downtown Menlo Park is clogged with traffic. I decide to set up a roadblock on El Camino Real. I will ask these drivers where they are going and why. In fact, I want a note from their mothers. Now.

My morning train pulls into Menlo Park's station. It pulls too far, positioning the wheelchair lift at the platform's wheelchair ramp. The irony of this, one disabled device vying with another, is lost on me at 8:39 AM. It's not funny. I want this problem solved. Now.

One conductor steps off the train. He tries lowering the wheelchair lift. Predictably, it bumps into the wheelchair ramp. He tries retracting the lift. It won't budge. Meanwhile, a man tells me that yesterday it was warmer in New Jersey. I believe him.

I don't believe the conductor when he tells me the train will be rolling soon. The windchill is worsening. To get inside the train's warm interior, I must mount the steps. The Steppes of Central Asia seem less formidable. I glare at the conductor. This has no effect. The temperature keeps dropping, my temper keeps rising.

When I finally board, half the Caltrain passengers are standing. I am sitting, having brought my own chair. A wheelchair, admittedly, but quite comfy. For once, I am decidedly better off than my able-bodied companions. It's the small things. One has to be grateful for them. Particularly at this time of year.