Archive for the ‘Commuting’ Category

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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Metro does it again!

In my haste to tell you about the Ghost Band and their dirty laundry, I see I inadvertently left a note about Yet Another Metro Failure (YAMF) tacked on to the bottom of the post.
I know you are ANXIOUS to hear the whole story!
On Tuesday morning as my fellow commuters and I glumly took our places in the escalator to descend into the gloomy depths of Friendship Heights, we noticed two commuters rushing UPWARDS against the flow, like salmon leaping upriver.
Image result for salmon leaping upstream
Frivolous FUN SEEKERS, I thought disapprovingly–and yet, their faces, as they approached and then passed on their way up had nothing of the sportive expression one would expect. Quite the opposite, in fact–grim and furious.
As we arrived at the bottom I noticed two more adventurers valiantly embarking on the upriver adventure.
And, the reason for their insane resolve:

  1. Metro had closed down the third escalator to the station some time ago–one of those renovation projects which stretch into millennia–and so there were only the two remaining.
  2. The other escalator was not functioning
  3. AND–just to add insult to injury–CLOSED. Which is to say, a barrier had been placed in front of it.

There was a vast line of fuming commuters waiting for the (one) elevator.
What can I say–YAMF!

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This morning I took an unanticipated 2 mile hike though downtown DC–realizing yet again, what a pretty town this is! Filled with ancient buildings and little parks, often ornamented with some statue or other.

A little bird was perching on Edmund Burke’s hand as I passed by (the original of this sculpture provides rest for weary birds in Bristol, England.)
Why was I taking a 2 mile hike, you ask?
Well, the Red Line was up to its pranks again. Smoke somewhere, perhaps a fire? Whatever, all commuters heading south into the city were dumped out at Dupont Circle, and that graceful ornament of the city was swarming with disgruntled commuters and confused tourists, completely overwhelming the pathetic array of buses confidently offered by Metro as a means of continuing our journeys. So I asked my phone how far it was to walk to my office–not quite 2 miles it told me, helpfully showing several routes. RIGHT! The day was clear and warm, I had my walking shoes on, and I set out. FIRST taking a few panicked moments, as always, to figure out which way to head. WHERE AM I, Google? Do you mean go this => way or that<= way? Eh? But eventually I just followed the crowds who had also decided to walk, and we made our way through the city streets, gradually dispersing to our various places of employment. It is, as I said, a pretty town, and it was a pleasant if brisk walk from Dupont Circle to my building. I will own that by the time I got to the gates of Chinatown, I was gently GLOWING, as they say.

However, I cooled down once at the office, and now feel a comfortable sense of virtue, having completed all exercise requirements for the week.

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Yesterday I rose before the sun and –not trusting the bus and train to get me there in time–drove downtown to administer a meeting. And patiently endured the grim meeting, which seemed to last for days but in fact was only 9 hours (of a pointless tedium that strips the life force right out of you), drove home through bad rush hour traffic without whining–well, without whining very much–and once home, caroused with the cats until prudently retiring at 9:30.
Because why, because I had to do it again today.
Only today, bus and train as usual, because WHO CARES if I’m late, Day 2 is just a small closed meeting and they can eat their bagels and start their everlasting discussions without me. Though naturally, one doesn’t need to share this information with the bosses.
Well, in the night came the Snowstorm. Not much snow, but enough that the Montgomery Ride On bus system switched over to what they call the ‘S’ Schedule. S for Snow!
Also for Stupid, Senseless, and Soulless.
Basically, S schedule means that NO BUSES will be running, except in the wrong direction.
So, I fought my way against the storm out into the dark pre-dawn, sleet driving into my face. The street lights lit my way on the deserted snowy streets, I bravely trudged onwards, and once at the bus stop, stood stoically enough in the sleet pelting dark, awaiting the bus. Mass Ave rather desolate, with only the occasional car whooshing by, the occasional truck.
As I waited, getting colder and colder, I would periodically check my phone to see what time it was–and imagined the pathetic image I made, a huddled figure intently regarding the tiny light, standing there in the dark and cold.

At some point, the dark began to fade into light–JUST like they do it on stage! A beautiful and hopeful effect. Only, not crowned by the arrival of the bus, as the brightening day seemed to promise. After 45 fruitless minutes, I turned around and trudged back home, noticing that my eager footsteps in the snow from my trip to the bus stop were almost obliterated by the subsequent snow.

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For some time, my car has been patiently but urgently¬†indicating her need for service–that little yellow light saying Please Schedule an Expensive Visit to the Dealership.
It takes time but I have finally learned Car Warning LightSpeak, see chart below.
So that's what all the pretty lights mean! : ):
There is never a good time for this, and I have been ignoring it for a month and more. But this weekend I was accomplishing all the chores! So I stopped by my local garage and asked if I could bring in my dear little Mini on Monday morning. The youthful lout who lolls about the garage on the weekend gave me to understand that this would be fine, so this morning I drove there, and entered the office to drop off the keys.

The grim gent who actually knows what is going on told me that they have a problem with Minis–too complicated. Probably I would need to take it to the dealership. Sigh. However, I had to leave it there as planned, I told him–please do what you can–and I walked over to the bus stop, got on my usual bus which stops RIGHT by the garage, and headed off to work.
It turned out they COULD fix the car after all. HUZZA!
So after work I got on the train, ready to make rendez-vous with Mrs. Mini.
Except of course, the train was late so I missed the bus. And foolishly took the other, wrong bus which drops me off a good half a mile from the garage. Which I tramped in the dark and cold, FINE, need the exercise, don’t you know. But when I was still a good way off, I saw the bus that I should have waited for, the one that stops RIGHT BY the garage–whisking past me as I trudged up the hill.
We are playthings for the gods, comrades.
However, I am pleased to report that the garage managed to fix whatever was making the engine light go on–well, either they fixed it or they removed the light bulb.
Which is to say, FIXED.

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Yesterday I was presented with a devastating Dear John note from the Red Line: “Wonderful as our relationship has been, it will be terminated on Monday. Sorry, and very best wishes for an excellent November! We can get back together in December! Kisses!

Wiping away my tears, I bleakly contemplated my options:

1) Quit work? No, I need the money.
2) Drive in? $15 a day parking=THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS! Not going to happen.
3) Take the bus? POSSIBLE.

So, I started looking for bus destinations and schedules–but every time I clicked on a link, Metro would intervene and suggest that I download their excellent new application, myTRANSITGuide. FREE! What could go wrong?
So, I clicked the button. YIKES! This app can:

  • Read and change all your data on the websites you visit
  • Read and change your browsing history
  • Manage your downloads
  • Manage your apps, extensions and themes

Are they completely cuckoo? I wouldn’t give that kind of control to the Dalai Lama, let alone to some arrogant website. Eventually I found a way to pierce the mystery of the bus schedules without entering into eternal servitude to the transit authority. There IS a bus that stops by my office, I CAN get to work without the subway.
If I can master my initial despair.

Anyway, it’s not happening until Monday. So really, why worry! It’s FRIDAY! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Yesterday I inadvertently took part in a Major Scientific Experiment, in which Leaving For Work Without a Smartphone OR an Ipod (or Similar Device) is Studied As it Affects a 68-Year Old Suburban Woman. Despite totally supporting scientific inquiry and all the benefits it bestows on mankind, I own that my first reaction on discovering the part I was to play in this experiment was horror, followed by grief and then rage. Ultimately, a numb indifference prevailed.
The initial theory posited (= she will rush back to the house to retrieve the articles, and take a later bus) was not supported by the experiment. Instead, as I mentioned, numb indifference. Had the river been closer, there might have been some movement towards a Great Notion to Jump in the River and Drown, but it wasn’t and in any case, the day was chilly.
WHAT a week for ups and downs it’s been, comrades! Why, the day before this dread experiment I had been exulting in a Grand Triumph! I had actually programmed a new garage door remote control! Oh, I know that these days a child–what am I saying, even a clever cat–can program a remote with one hand (or paw) tied behind its back, but for ancient grannies, it is a terrifying challenge. HOWEVER with the aid of a mouldering wooden step ladder and my strongest spectacles, I managed this feat! Huzzah! My heart beat high, I can tell you.
Only to be cast down the next day as described.
Well, well, today seems to be going fairly well, but I’m not making any bets on its continuing that way.

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