This Seat Taken? Notes of a Hapless Commuter
By Anthony Buccino
If you ever commuted to work, you'll enjoy
reading Anthony Buccino's
* * * * *
Anthony Buccino spent 12 years editing business news copy at Dow Jones & Co. for the Ticker, NewsPlus and The Wall Street Journal professional web pages.
The company was located in Jersey City when he started and 10 years later moved to the NewsCorp building in the Times Square district of mid-town Manhattan.
For his first year working in Jersey City, Buccino actually drove the 12 miles each way to work and home. An average commute would take 20 minutes to reach the city and at least another 20 minutes to cross the city to his parking lot near the Hudson River.
It wasn't long before the cross-town traffic and the monthly parking fee, nearly enough for a car payment, persuaded the author to use mass transit for the first time ever to get to work.
For 11 years, he rode public transportation including NJ Transit buses, Newark City Subway, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Port Authority Trans Hudson's PATH trains, the occasional NYC subway and DeCamp buses.
For five years, Buccino wrote about commuting and transit in metro New York-New Jersey for NJ.com. His transit blog on NJ.com earned the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism award. Many of those blurbs are gathered in this collection.
Commuters who knew he wrote for NJ.com would seek him out and tell him their commuter tales of woe. Often they would simply commiserate and try to see who had a worse ride in that day. But more than once, Buccino was button-holed after a scathing piece on, say, homeless people's using Newark City Subway stairwells as toilets, and told that it was cleaned up within hours of his writing about it online.
For the most part, the items collected in "This Seat Taken?" are short, so readers and commuters can pick it up and read at random, or read as far as they can before their own stop. Then, it's easy to pick up where you left off or try pot-luck in the four sections of the book.
This collection is available in print and as an ebook because when he wasn't busy writing notes about his commute, Buccino was reading a newspaper, paperback or an ebook. "My first generation Kindle got me through a lot of long, long waits at the Port Authority Bus Terminal when no one from the bus company would tell us what was going on and the lines stretched down the halls, down the escalators and back out into the lobby," Buccino said.
"It's hard to believe I once had a job where I drove 40 miles each way to work. I was changing the oil in my car every three months," Buccino said. "Then for more than 10 years I mostly drove to the bus stop and home and out for groceries once a week. I practically forgot how to drive.
"And something strange happened in the years I was commuting. People who drive cars all went screwy. They pull out in front of you. They don't use turn signals. They drive above the speed limit. These days, drivers hold conference calls and write emails while they are driving on the road. That's one group of people I don't want to read this book, at least not while they are driving," Buccino said. "Perhaps they should set their eReaders to read "This Seat Taken?" aloud as they sit in a traffic jam wondering if that's me laughing at them from my perch on an NJTransit bus passing them in the express lane."
In 2008, Buccino published "Voices on the Bus, Train, Subway, Bus and in My Head," a collection of non-rhyming verse written while commuting from northeastern Essex County to Jersey City, N.J.
To all the strap hangers and commuters
taking public transportation to work
because it's cheaper and better for the earth
and because, like me, they'd probably run down
annoying, sluggish pedestrians clogging crosswalks,
if we allowed them behind the wheel.
In three sections
Follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBuccino
Get updates on Facebook AuthorABuccino
New Jersey author Anthony Buccino published more than fifteen books including four essay collections, three military history books and seven full-length poetry collections.
His stories of the 1960s earned a SPJ-NJ Excellence in Journalism award. His transit blog on NJ.com earned a SPJ-NJ Excellence in Journalism award. His poem At The Vet has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
He has been called '“New Jersey’s Garrison Keillor” or something to that effect.’
Permissions & other snail mail: