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Archive for the ‘Commuting’ Category

The path ahead

A couple days ago I emerged from the subway to find a scene of hellish confusion–fences blocking the way, trucks roaring, workers bustling about–what on earth was going on? I had to cross over to the other side of the road, and I own I felt somewhat aggrieved.
Once at work I commenced on my various duties and thought of it no more until I was accosted by a colleague who proudly told me that the activity on the street was the result of his complaint to the city: that sidewalk a disgrace, and what about Special Needs People for heaven’s sake, how were they to traverse the gullies and murky puddles of that stretch of shameful concrete?
AH.
I congratulated him on his triumph, and we agreed that this was a fine city to so promptly spring to the aid of its citizens.
Afterwards I thought how often I had trod that sidewalk, sighing perhaps at the size of the puddles I had to skirt, but hurrying on to work or home without EVER EVER thinking of complaining or seeking redress. It simply never occurred to me.
Am I perhaps too accepting of bad sidewalk conditions?
I like to think that it is not that I am an aimless acceptor of flaws but rather an upright pilgrim, who accepts that the path ahead is ever difficult and filled with pitfalls.
At least, that is what I told myself.
And today the sidewalk was a miracle of beauty–tidy rows of laid brick.

My, how prosperous is our city.

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Reprobate Red Line

Tuesday was an odd day–well, is it really odd when the Red Line does one of its super pratfalls during rush hour?
No.
So let us say Tuesday featured a blow out performance by the Red Line, ably supported by my phone which –at a crucial moment–smugly told me it had encountered a battery situation and was now at…10 percent power.

See, I was calmly sitting at my ease on the train to work when horrid messages of failure and ghastly problems began to be heard. Stations in our path were closed, trains were single-tracking–and suddenly, the driver gave up completely and told us THIS TRAIN IS NOW OUT OF SERVICE, and we were all to out get. To add to the excitement, we were informed that trains were not running to the station where I get off.
Vast crowds of people milled about in the station, and no trains were coming or going.
I thought: I’ll go topside and get an Uber!
It turns out this was NOT a wise move because:

1) many other people had the same idea

2) it was FREEZING COLD outside

3) and my phone went into its little shtick

4) and the promised Uber finally cancelled (first charging me $14.97).

Sigh.
So, I went back down to the station, a train eventually came, I crammed myself into the sad mass of outraged commuters, and eventually got to work, an hour late.
I had at least managed to force my misbehaving phone to email the person whom I was meeting at 9 and set a later time.

But that evening I had a date with an old friend, in town for some conference. Naturally, we waited for one another in different parts of the establishment but fate relented and we had a long pleasant chat with many expensive glasses of wine.
Which he paid for, being a gallant soul.

And then on the train home, I ran into an acquaintance from ballet and we talked all the way to Friendship Heights.
So I have forgiven the Red Line. ONCE AGAIN.

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Persistence

I am making slow but deliberate promenade towards Back to Normal, after a fairly ghastly surgery on Tuesday.
So I there I was, carefully making my way to the Kennedy Center last night, to see American in Paris. It was BRUTALLY cold in the metropolis last night, dear friends–many degrees below freezing. My brain was not progressing at warp speed, but I gently and firmly made my way through the familiar streets to–WHAT FRESH HELL WAS THIS?? The street that led to the K Center was….CLOSED.
OK. OK!
I would take another route. I inched up to the Circle, noticing many other cars taking a road before the circle, but too slow in the uptake to follow them. Which is why I shortly thereafter found myself BACK on the same track, coming up to the same turn, doomed to repeat my foolishness.
But not so! I had learned! Again inching forward in traffic, I turned on the correct road, proceeded in a slow but determined way and eventually found myself entering the K Center grounds!
AND SWIFTLY leaving them to rocket over into Virginia, having made an ill-considered move which put me onto the bridge and on my way to eternity.
But I foiled eternity, somehow hooking onto Route 50, crossing the Potomac on Key Bridge, and nipping back down Whitehurst Freeway. For the third time. THIS time, I made no mistakes and eventually found myself $23 poorer, car parked within those sacred walls, and myself soberly progressing to the Opera House.
For which, Hosanna!
The show was very nice, lots of color and verve. Probably more vervy with the original performers, but this was fine. I smiled, I applauded, and then I went home.
Success–I congratulate myself!

Next time I shall ask Google before I leave.

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When the painter said he couldn’t start until the 14th, I SHOULD have said, OK, we’ll have to wait until after Christmas. But instead, with that imbecilic fecklessness which is one of my (very few) flaws, I brightly bade him go ahead. Which is why instead of baking cookies, making casseroles, and wrapping gifts, I have spent the weekend dusting books and objets d’art –and they are VERY DUSTY INDEED, (for which I blame no one, least of all, myself) and putting them back on shelves. The shelves are now gleaming white and looking very well indeed, but possibly their former dilapidated and grubby aspect would not have materially depressed our holiday spirits.
SO–having not had time to do all the cooking and baking I usually task myself with, I steeled my nerves and set off for COSTCO to purchase food stuffs. And wine, of course. Getting there is slightly terrifying, a trip I could never make without Siri and her firm directions–horrifying high speed expressways intersecting in bewildering complexities. But, made it there, and as always was overwhelmed–it is a TEMPLE OF GREED–everything you could want is there, towering up to the ceiling in huge piles of luxurious amplitude. I spent quite an astonishing amount of money, filling up my little car, and am now back home and ready for lunch.

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The other day as I plodded down the escalator–GOING HOME AT LAST! -the station suddenly burst into song. “Plinketty plinketty plinketty” sang the speakers. What ghastly fresh hell was this? Then, the train roared in, I got on and forgot all about it.
Except, the next evening, and the next, and the next, there it was, that offensive noise. What deranged buffoon thought this was a good idea? Perhaps Metro has a Department of Irritating the Customer Even More Than the Loony ‘Schedule Adjustments’ Already Do?
Finally, it maddened me to the point of complaining to the station master–and just as I finished my polite but heartfelt statement, up trotted another elderly lady who loudly disagreed with me, saying that she LOVED, LOVED the music.
Sighing, I retreated to the bench to await my train. “Plinketty plinketty plinketty” sang the speakers, and I silently ground my teeth in rage.

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August

The air today was horrid muggy–like having a hot and sweaty hand clasped around your face. Disagreeable, very. But—FRIDAY! So, I left work a little early, to do some shopping and then consider whether a Pina Colada (SO 1970s!) or a Strawberry Daiquiri (SO 1980’s!) or a Dark and Stormy (SO 2016!) would be the best drink with which to celebrate the evening.

HOWSOEVER.
Some sad person decided that today would be a good day to jump in front of a train, and though I of course sympathize with her desperate grief and despair, I will own that one could wish that she had chosen a method that did not discommode thousands of commuters.
But how shameful of me to even think such an unsympathetic thought! Poor fellow human! Who, apparently, did not in fact succeed in her project of self-immolation.
So there’s that.

Also, it turns out that sitting in a well chilled train with a book in hand is not the worst way to pass some time on an oppressive summer afternoon.
So there’s that.
Anyway, I eventually arrived at the station, boarded the bus and made my way home. The sky was ominous with louring clouds–huge storm on the way! As soon as I got home I grabbed shopping list and drove off in haste to grocery store, to get shopping done before apocalypse.
A flash lit up the car dashboard! Was it lightning, announcing the deadly storm?
No, it was that DAMN TRAFFIC CAMERA.
Sigh. Can’t win for losing.
But here is the good thing about today: it is my dear sister-in-law’s birthday! So, Happy Birthday Claire!

May the traffic cameras never see your car and may the rain clouds miss your celebration!

PS. In case you’re wondering, the pina colada won the coveted Which Drink Is Most Lovesome Prize.

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Metro Coffee

In a humble attempt to win back the esteem of their customers–disheartened and alienated after months of terrible commutes–the Washington Metro had minions handing out coupons for a Free (Medium size) Mc’Coffee yesterday. Each coupon bore a breezy message about much our support was appreciated, and how during the SafeTrackSurge they did THREE YEARS WORK IN ONE YEAR!

I, uh—well, very nice, Metro! Good try, at least.
I gave the coupon (and the usual dollar) to the the beggar lady who stands on the corner every Friday, and she gave me her blessing, as she does every week.
And as always, I figure I’m safe for another week at least.

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