Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A New Era In Commuting Dawns

So I turned 57 on Sunday, which made Monday's commute the first of a new Stevieyear.

And what a commute it was! It started really well when I woke early at 6:00 am o'clock in the morning with my bladder screaming that the two sips of water I had yesterday before bed were a colossally bad idea. I thrashed around for a bit but eventually lost the battle for sleep and went to the bathroom. Returning to my bed I fell into a deep sleep, so deep I did not hear my alarm and so awakened for the second time just as my train was leaving the platform.

"Great Scott" I cried 1 and leapt for the shower, where I spent ten minutes clawing at the packaging to the new bar of soap I needed to replace the soapy smudge on the soapdish. Once liberated, this wonder of modern hygiene science rendered me clean and bereft of certain essential skin oils as per the requirements of modern civilized life as I scrubbed and I was able to languish under the now almost lukewarm water, contemplating the workmen cutting a large hole in my next-door neighbour's roof in the quest for some sort of home improvement. A quick pause to dry off and get some clothes on2 and it was off to work on the 10:02 from Wyandanch 3.

Or not.

Because I had forgotten that the LIRR had finally gotten its collective finger out and started to do essential and long overdue trackwork on the single track segment that runs between Pinelawn and Central Islip (I think). Therefore, it was off to Hicksville on the LIRR-supplied bus, via Pinelawn.

It was with a certain fatalism that I saw that the slip road to the Long Island Expressway crossed a bridge which was being widened that day. Naturally, before one can widen a two-lane bridge, it must first be narrowed with large concrete barriers to a single lane, thereby allowing road users to fully appreciate the way their lives will be improved when the widened bridge opens new vistas of road freedom as they fulminate in the near stationary traffic jam the temporary arrangements have caused. Ten seconds after we set off torrential rain descended from the heavens in order to make everything wet, but I cheered myself up by thinking about the hole in my neighbour's roof and the two workmen on the said roof who were by now having to deal with all the lightning zooming around the sky and crashing into things with the usual flashes, bangs and property damage.

In almost some time at all we pulled into Hickville where the elevators to the elevated platforms were all out of order, allowing me once more to demonstrate the mighty Stevielungs in action as I clung to the railing at the top of the fifty-foot staircase wheezing like one of those antique pumps used to feed life-giving air to someone in a hard-hat diving suit ten fathoms below as they patch rents, stop vents and do whatever else is required to raise the Mary Ellen Carter. Not only that, all that nonsense with the soap was rendered moot by the tropical levels of humidity preventing my sweat from actually cooling my body down and by doing so, shut down the sweating. I couldn't have been wetter if I had walked to Hicksville.

The train arrived and I boarded, but unfortunately so did about twenty bajillion yahoos with their luggage and their feet staking out as much real estate as they can in order not to have to share a bench seat that holds three with one other person. Gits.

I got to work a few minutes before noon, where the day went rapidly downhill. I cheered up for a bit when I was informed my section leader had been hospitalized but it turned out to be just an unsubstantiated rumour and he showed up at my desk to yell at me at around two. Someone should tell that man how dangerous it is to wake someone from a sound sleep like that. As it was he almost lost an eye when I reflexively stabbed for his head with my automatic pencil.

He remonstrated with me for what seemed like hours but was really only about one on the subject of giving 110% (this from a man with a masters degree in Pure Mathematics) and all would have been well had I not had the misfortune to doze off again mid-rant. Even then, my precaution of having drawn realistic "eyes" on my eyelids might have saved the day had I not begin to snore4.

We had a frank exchange of views in which he explained his (new this week) vision for the enterprise and I made inappropriate noises with various body parts indicating vehement rejection of his thesis5 and we parted in bad humor, he to whatever he does when no-one is looking, me to the large conference room where I could be assured of a couple of hours peace and quiet.

Which turned out to be a mistake as one of my colleagues was in a mischievous mood and used the opportunity to sneak into the room while I was deep in contemplation of my boss's plans and draw "humorous" features on my face with a Sharpie. Luckily I visited the bathroom before leaving for the day and spotted the perfidy in the mirror. Unfortunately the wag had used an Overhead Projector pen and the ink was too tenacious for the chemicals I could bring to bear in situ: Soap, scouring paste, dry-erase board cleaner and the spray stuff we use to clean heatsink paste off ciruit boards6. I decided the "Frankenstein" stitching across my forehead, the "Harry Potter" glasses and the two bullet holes in my left temple could be carried off as a fashion statement and set off for home. The blacked-out teeth I could hide by simply not smiling too widely.

Which after the day's events wasn't much of a challenge to be honest.

  1. Or words to that effect
  2. Won't make that mistake again
  3. Pearl of the East
  4. Which it turned out was why he had come over in the first place. Lesson learned. Obtaining proper nostril-sized nylon bushings now Prime Objective Alpha 1 A
  5. Since he never listens to a word I say I no longer waste them on him
  6. Which it turns out is mildly toxic and after a lungful of the fumes I couldn't see blue or pronounce the letter "p" for an hour and a half

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