Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New LIRR Timetables For My (In)Convenience

My friend Ralph the Teacher paid us a flying visit from his new home in Atlanta, Georgia1, so I decided to cut my working day short and take the earlier 5:01 from Brooklyn which is one of the two direct, no change at Jamaica (not the good one) trains offered.

Since a change at Jamaica usually involves transferring to a train from Manhattan, already filled to indecent assault levels before it leaves Penn Station, if I can't make either this or (more usually) the 6:04 I just travel into Manhattan and take a train out of Penn. So I would just like to take a minute to thank the fbleeping moron who decided to drop the 5:01 from the schedule and replace it with the all-but-useless 4:30-something. Had I known before I set out that I would be experiencing the creative talent of the LIRR traffic flow and passenger logistics staff I would have left earlier and gone to Penn2. Well done that wuckfit.

I finally got home and rendezvoused with Ralph, and a high time of manly goings on was had for a couple of hours. Ralph is not aclimating to life in Georgia well. For one thing, he is not enjoying The Joke.

You don't know it? They only have the one, it seems. It goes like this: What's the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee? The Yankee eventually goes home. Ralph, possibly the least translocatable New Yorker I know, has tired of it after a mere 1100 tellings (estimated), and has begun to respond in "kind"3. Truth be told, Ralph probably took to replying before anyone broke out the joke. He is radically unsuited to life off Long Island. Oh well. I told him to head off the joke next time with a witty replacement punchline4 but he wasn't receptive.

In point of fact there are indeed an awful lot of people still fighting what is known south of the Mason-Dixon line as "The War Of Northern Agression" (or sometimes, in polite society, as "The Recent Unpleasantness") depite the fact that it was all over and done with more than four generations ago. Who won the civil war? Truth is, no-one did, really. All that happened was that the nation as a whole lost.

It is true that individuals prospered at the expense of their fellow citizens, just as they do today5 but niether side "won" that particular war as is obvious by the fact that The Joke is still being told (it dates back to before the Burning of Atlanta I should think).

I became profoundly aware of just how devastating the civil war was to the emerging nation of the USA when I first visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, an experience still as vivid today as it was on that afternoon in 1985 when the ramifications of the conflict in terms of world politics hit me like a physical blow as I stood at Lincoln's feet. It must have filled the country's leaders with despair at the time. Oh well.

This morning I was again out in good time to catch the Brooklyn train even if I couldn't get a parking space due to flocks of Rich Gits descending on Wyandanch again. If only that low-loader carrying some sort of gigantic machine hadn't decided to take the same route, albeit at a top speed of twenty miles an hour.

Having missed the Brooklyn train I was forced into a Jamaica change, whereupon I was fortunate enough to share my commute with one of the rudest people I've met in a long time.

He was sitting in one of the three abreast, facing, six-seater seats. When occupying these, etiquette is for two people to sit on the same side separated by one seat, with a third seated in the middle on the opposite side. This way everyone gets legroom, and there is plenty of manouveuring room should a fourth wish to join the group (in which case pairs sit facing each other). This individual had decided to spread his legs out so he occupied the space in front of him and that I wished to sit in (the lady in the other position was rather large and sitting opposite her was not optimal).

I asked him to move over and he just glared at me. I glared back and asked loudly how much room he needed. He ceded about three inches of space, but still tried to put the squeeze on with his legs, making for an uncomfortable trip.

As I got off the train at Brooklyn I found myself wishing for the hex-powers of The Scarlet Witch. I pictured myself handing the Ignoramus a card with a 'phone number on it and muttering "when you want it to stop, call this number", then leaving the fool to a string of increasingly annoying yet inexplicable petty strokes of bad luck as my hex-powers had their way with him, culminating in a tearful begging one night via a rapidly failing cell phone.

I swear that as I walked down the platform I heard a crash as the stiches mysteriously vanished from his leather briefcase and the contents spread themselves around his feet to be trodden on by people as polite as he was.

I totally should have these powers.

  1. Rainy nights optional, I'm told
  2. a train at 4:3x pm is too damned early to be of use to anyone who works normal office hours: I suspect the influence of recently arrived in-theater Rich Gits who never work regular office hours
  3. A curious construction I've always felt, since the way it is done is rarely perceived as "kind" by anyone involved
  4. "A Yankee always thanks the Georgia Peach after he has burned down her home and ravished her in retaliation for her ancestors' secession". Ralph frowned, but I don't think he spotted the fact I was insulting both sides of "the recent unpleasantness" in retaliation for their ancestors' foul and mutinous behaviour in the mid to late 1700s when they cast off Benevolent British Rule
  5. The myth that is the economy of hiring civilian contractors to fill traditionally military roles in Iraq is the biggest whopper waiting in the wings to bring down a government from where I am sitting. In almost all the cases I've seen examined, it seems to be costing several times as much to have these contractors in place. One might think the whole sorry business was contrived for a select few rich people to get even richer, if one was a cynic

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