Friday, April 06, 2012

Another Day in the Life Pathetic

The day started so well

I got up early so I could get one of the two straight-through, no-change-at-Jamaica-not-the-good-one trains that run from Wyandanch to Atlantic Terminal, the Jewel in the Crown of Brooklyn. Arriving in good time to find the car park really quite empty I realized that Good Friday had fallen on the start of Passover so my train would also be mostly empty! Yazoo!

Once on the platform I was, of course, introduced to the real reason for the lack of commuters: once again the trains had been "delayed due to a police action west of Wyandanch". Again I had to listen to the idiot in some booth announce the times that the "delayed" train would be arriving in stations over 25 miles and at least 30 minutes away on a line that would offer these poor devils quite a few alternative trains, assuming they were dimwitted enough to be standing on those platforms at this hour waiting for that train, a circumstance so unlikely as to be functionally impossible. One again the LIRR failed singularly to explain what the real issue was.

But after twenty minutes of "train delay due to police activity" messages and one presumably inadvertent mention of an unauthorized person on the tracks, I could guess.

Five minutes or so after that my guess was proved right - someone had been hit by a train and naturally the train service was now suspended indefinitely while the poor buggers in the squad cars tried to find the parts.

See, a human being is, for the purposes of collisions with fast-moving trains, rather like a kitchen bin liner half full of tomatoes and topped off with water, then sealed. On contact with the train hydrostatic forces tear apart the body and the various bits you learned about in school get thrown all over the scenery. Personally, I think that if the LIRR allowed people to see the results of this they'd find themselves less popular as a venue for drunks or suicides. Morons can't be stopped but you just know that bursting open has to hurt a lot.

My angst at this point may not be clear to the reader, so I will state up front that I do not hold the LIRR to blame for the loss of service due to idiots on the track. I hold them to blame for knowing about the situation and not telling me in a timely manner so I can make other commuting plans, like getting across the island to Babylon rail station before all the parking spaces, in short supply but long demand even on a good day, are taken. These fbleepwits knew they would be cancelling the service so why not just bloody well say so and do us all a favor?

So I set off with everyone else in convoy to Babylon to see if I could somehow park my car and arrive at work this side of Monday (it was already clear I would not be early, now the challenge was to see if I could avoid being very late). Luckily I had the good fortune to get stuck behind a car transporting two 8x4 sheets of plywood on the roof (and therefore doing 28 mph the entire way) which was also behind an Optimum Cable TV truck driven by someone paid by the hour and deciding to make the most of it. But I did get a space, one of three left in the car park.

Paying for the space was more problematical.

I a moment of brilliance I had departed work with two dollars to my name, which I had spent on coffee in Wyandanch station under the illusion I would soon be sipping it as the miles sped by. The car park has numbered spaces that you pay for at a machine to which, presumably, the traffic cop in charge has some sort of wireless connection. One simply pays and departs on one's journey.

First stop was at the Bank of America ATM, where I got two rather moth-eaten $20 bills and was charged $2 for the privilege. Bank of America, you may remember, were one of those organizations that demonstrated they had no idea how to run a bank about two years ago. Not satisfied with billions of tax dollars, some of which were from what I laughingly refer to as my pay packet, they have the nerve to assess a two buck service charge for an automatic transaction that actually saves them money.

It occurs to me that one of the terms of the "Bailouts for Bonuses" deal so skillfully negotiated by the Powers That Be might usefully have been that having funded them out of penury we would not be charged these fees for, say, ever. I digress.

So, I now had my money, albeit in rather unusable for for the purposes at hand, buying ten hours of parking at a quarter an hour. Fortunately the LIRR provides a change machine, one proudly labelled with a sign saying that it now can recognize a bill in any of four different orientations. I inserted one of my twenties.

The machine spat it back out as unrecognized.

Sighing and mentally consigning the person who suggested the sign to one of the less amusing circles of hell I reoriented the bill and tried again. And then once again, which proved to be the charm. I looked down at the small cup into which the coins would be delivered and thought "I suppose it will do five dollars worth and give me the rest in bills. I hope it doesn't give me any of those dollar coins though."

I was worrying needlessly. I looked on in horror as twenty dollars worth of quarters, a total of eighty coins in all, were vomited out of the machine and onto the floor with great mechanical tintinabulation along with a chorus of class three Words of Power from yours truly. Not only was my commute effectively fbleeped up to the nth degree, it would from now on be conducted with pockets more suited to deep sea diving than attempting to walk to the train. The LIRR, a stickler for deatil in these matters, had enhanced the affair by having one escalator out of action, which by lucky chance happened to be the one ascending to the Westbound platforms.

I arrived at the top of the stairs wheezing, blood pouring from my nose and ears, coins dribbling from my pockets1, begging passers-by for the mercy of a bullet in the head. Sadly, since all my fellow commuters were those who had been caught in some variation of the same fiasco my pleas fell on deaf ears. "You know you dropped some quarters on the stairs, right?" said one, kindly, as I clutched the side of the stairwell, lungs roaring as my chest sucked in volumes of life-giving air.

Of course, the New York train had just left and the next one would not do so for 20 minutes or so.

During the trip it transpired that everyone capable of leaving their house had simultaneously decided to take a day in New York, and so in no time at all the local train2 was jamed full of people with very young children. Those little darlings. They can make any journey seem 15 times longer than it really is, but in reality I think the LIRR was doing fine in that department without help.

By the time we finally rolled into Jamaica we had missed all the connections to Atlantic Terminal and the next train would arrive two minutes before I would be officially late for work. If the bloody LIRR had simply announced the problem at Wyandanch when they first knew about it, I would have been able to shave at least 20 minutes off my commute and would have arrived within my core time and that's why I'm livid with rage. There is no problem bad enough that the LIRR's mediation of the problem can't make it worse, often infinitely worse3.

And I just heard that Mrs Stevie's mom has collapsed with a suspected stroke, so it seems life is not done being a total jerkface quite yet.

  1. Which gave me the appearance of having some sort of symmetrically disfiguring growths on my thighs
  2. Which stopped at about three hundred stations and therefore averaged about 3.8 miles per hour for the journey
  3. And for those who don't belive in infinity, I say ride the LIRR for a season and talk to me then


Becs said...

I know I should talk, living in Jersey, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why people live on Long Island. (Or Staten Island, most especially.)

Why? Oh, why? Is it the homeland of Mrs. Stevie's ancestors? What was it that drew you to this place?

Or would moving deprive you of many very amusing - in their own tragic way - blog posts?

Stevie said...