Thursday, January 21, 2016
Penn Station Project (Beer Coolers)
The above picture represents one of my Friday afternoon commuting rituals. If I'm not able to do happy hour with some of my colleagues, I brown bag a tallboy can of beer on the train ride home. This is technically against the rules of New Jersey Transit, but only the written rules. It is not in violation of the unwritten rules. As long as I keep it hidden, don't litter or spill, and not bother anyone else, the conductors will turn a blind eye.
Vendors in Penn Station are well aware of this. When you walk down the main concourse, you'll notice various pizzerias and sub sandwich shops, all of which have massive plexiglass, open-topped coolers full of ice and tallboy beer cans. They also have beer taps, and I have seen some people walk away with massive Big Gulp sized containers, sipping their beer through a straw, which I refuse to do. This practice seems much more common among the riders on the Long Island Railroad, make of that what you will.
Not all of these places in the concourse are created equal. Many offer only Yuengling as the sole alternative to Bud Light. A couple of places, however, regularly have craft beer of top quality available. I have no idea what the names of these places are, I just know them by sight and by their location on the concourse. For a short glorious time one of the places was stocked with Bell's beer, a label I consumed with much gusto when I lived in Michigan, and which isn't easy to find in these parts. For a couple of glorious Fridays I ended the working week sipping on a smooth Bell's brown ale, remembering the past and drifting into a zone of mental relaxation.
That's why the conductors will never bust me and the other tired people nursing beers on the train. We tend not to be boisterous (those are the folks getting on the train wrecked after happy hour), but introspective. This also happens to be why I never stick around to take the trains that leave around 7 on a Friday, since they are full of drunk yahoos. I like stepping off the train, feeling refreshed and I little buzzed, ready to greet my wife and kids and enjoy a relaxing weekend together. I hear that a removal of the coolers is in the works. Why can't they just let us worn out commuters enjoy this simple privilege?