Like the wailing from the lost souls in hell, my alarm clock started ringing at 6.30am. For most daytime dwelling, commuter folk – particularly those with offspring – this is a normal time to start the day. Not for my good self. I have my morning routine, refined to a precision that would make an Olympian proud. A simple matter of misplacing my keys for thirty seconds can mean the difference between catching, or missing my bus to the grim, industrial wastelands of North County Dublin.
One thing is for certain – I never willingly crawl out of the scratcher until the very last second possible. The latest time I am permitted to arrive at work, without minutes being subtracted from my annual holiday allowance is 9.30am. This requires that I be out of bed by 7.58am at the very latest. The previous evening before bedtime, I will have laid out the following day’s ensemble in the living room. The morning blood test takes 15 seconds. Brushing of teeth and shower (actions that are possible to combine) take 3 minutes. Getting dressed another two minutes. Quick glass of water and I am out the door. This military style operation allows me to leave the house at 8.08am. The walk to the bus stop takes 20 minutes precisely, meaning I am at my stop at 8.28am. I am present and correct for my bus to the wastelands for the rare occasion it is standing in its place, ready to depart at 8.30.
Most times I am left standing by the side of the road like an abandoned empty milk bottle, waiting in vain for the bus to arrive. Regardless of when it eventually does, I am almost guaranteed to be at work by 9.30.
Today was a day for change. I have to leave work at 4pm today, so unless I am willing to work late for the rest of the week, an early start was required.
The finely tuned morning routine was precisely the same – exact same time allowance for my daily ablutions. Only seventy five minutes earlier than usual.
I felt it was still the dead of night as I staggered to the bus stop. It was still dark. Nobody should be awake at this time I thought morosely to myself.
The 7.15am bus was standing ready, like a blue and yellow chariot of doom, waiting to whisk me to the wastelands.
It had been wet this morning in the city centre, as I skipped gloomily over puddles on my walk.
As I entered the depths of the wastelands at 7.45, the daylight was slowly revealing itself. I looked around in awe and terror. It had been snowing overnight out here, but instead of that magical, white cloudy shimmer of snow banks, out here the snow lay grey and sullen on the ground, highlighting the soul destroying bleakness of these grim environs. It was almost a relief to enter the office and get my first cup of coffee. I was at my desk by 8am.
Now it is 10.21am. It feels like it is late afternoon. Outside the sun is shining and the snow is melting. The wastelands look a lot more inviting from this angle – not losing the spirit crushing desolation that staring at an endless expanse of warehouses can induce obviously.
They’re not fooling me though. I had an unexpected glimpse of a world colder than the deepest pits of hell this morning.
The terrifying world of the wastelands before daybreak.