Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Grab Your Sou'Wester! Thar's A Nor' Easter A Blowin' In!

Because the misery index isn't high enough it began snowing yesterday in the late morning.

I missed my usual train due to my not being able to get out of sleep mode, and my "safety train" (the 8:17) too, but was on for my "safety-safety train" at 8:51. There were a surprising number of spaces in the car park, but that didn't tip off my keen spidey-senses to anything awry. Only when I entered the little station house to attempt the purchase of a newspaper did I gain some inkling of the inspired lengths to which the LIRR was preparing for the coming snowstorm.

The 8:17 had, it turned out, been cancelled and everyone who should have been on it was now camped out in the station owing to the sub-zero temperatures pertaining to the outside. Inside it was like the Hollyhead pub on a Friday night two weeks before Xmas, with people standing shoulder to shoulder and doing a sort of slow back and forth surging as inconsiderate people tried to breath out of turn. I was snarled at as I made my way to the newspaper kiosk because I accidentally nudged someone whose elbows were in a sticky-out pose and caused her to spill her coffee. Of course, if she hadn't been attempting to text message someone on her cell phone at the same time she would have heard me say excuse me and been able to brace for impact or pull in the elbows a bit. As it was she just got coffee on her foot. Once I had my paper I made my way outside. I get claustrophobic jammed in with so mant people I have no intention of attempting sexual congress with. On my way to the door I had to negotiate Mz Sticky Out Elbows again. She had somehow lost the coffee and replaced it with an egg sandwich. She was still text messaging though, and mighty displeased to be asked to move again.

I took the next train out, jammed in with approximately 50 000 others, and decided to switch trains at Hicksville, where an off-peak train was waiting. Slower, yes, but it had free seats and the Stevielegs were begining to complain of overuse. What I hadn't reckonned on was the connecting train at Brooklyn taking 20 minutes to arrive. Thus it was that I got a late start to work, and so was in for a late leaving. This in turn would entail me missing the 6:04 from Brooklyn and being faced with the choice of taking a later train from Flatbush Avenue that would have me changing trains at Jamaica1 or going into Manhattan and catching the train I would be connecting with in Queens where it started from: Penn Station. If I mention that the trains in question are already overcrowded before they leave Pann, and that they offload only one or two people in Jamaica, it should be obvious this calculation is of the "no brainer" type.

Over the course of the afternoon, about an inch of snow fell and temperatures actually rose to 31 degrees Fahrenheit. This should have warned me, but didn't. No sense of the looming fiasco made itself known to Mr Brain. I finished work and rode in to Penn.

Where I found a jujuflop-in-progress the likes of which I have not seen since the last one.

Trains were delayed for "up to an hour". Thus Penn Station was now a larger scale version of what had transpired at Wyandanch that morning. Not only that, some gimboid had driven his car onto the grade crossing in front of an oncoming train, and had chosen Pinelawn to do it. That was good, inasmuch as Pinelawn is the stop for the largest cemetary in the area. the police could just scrape him up and drop him in a convenient hole2 but bad in that Pinelawn is in the chicane where the double tracks of the Ronkonkoma line become one slender track between Pinelawn and Deer Park. Wyandanch (Pearl of the East)3 is in between those two stations. "All Ronkonkoma service is suspended" announced the announcer over the annunciation system, triggering a panic rush to board the Babylon express.

It really bugs me that the LIRR can't keep things together when so little snow falls. Admittedly, the Pinelawn Train-Dueling Genius wasn't their fault, but no trains were running other than that Babylon one. Matters were made infinitely worse by the unseemly kicking, elbowing, shoving and biting going on in the mad dash to get on that one train too. Of course, if people are going to get in the way when I am trying to secure a seat they fully deserve to be kicked, elbowed, shoved and bitten.

As the train made it's way out towards Jamaica (still not the good one), I phoned Mrs Stevie and negotiated a pick up at Babylon Station. My car was, of course, six miles north of my train destination, at Wyandanch. It would be par for the course if the taxi service at Babylon consisted of one cab that night.

Mrs Stevie arrived at Babylon for the arranged pick-up in good time. I, however, was riding courtesy of the LIRR and so arrived over an hour after the scheduled arrival time. This on a train that made exactly no stops between Jamaica and Babylon, and rode on elevated tracks the entire route (and was thus unplagued by idiots who don't know better than to park on a grade crossing).

I don't know what I would have done to avoid the face-eating I was expecting if a fellow commuter, Rich, hadn't materialised and begged a ride too.

Mrs Stevie was so busy flirting with him that she totally forgot to launch her attack.

  1. Not the good one, the one in Queens
  2. Yes, I know this is insensitive but really, if you don't know that always yeild to trains is common sense then you deserve all my aprobation and then some
  3. My stop

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