Monday, February 05, 2007

The Nightmare Express

Hey - long time no post, I know. Thinks are fine here at Chez Starfish, although very busy. I have several thoughtful and witty posts in the making, and I hope to share them with you very soon. In the meantime, I give you the following post, written on my blackberry last Friday evening:

As I write this I am sitting on commuter train. A normal occurrence at this time of day (the 6:07 eastbound that usually arrives at my station at 6:50) except for the fact that we are not moving currently and it doesn't look like we will be any time soon. It seems as though there is a train 5 trains ahead of us that has a downed power line on top of it. We were moving rather slowly for a good while, but now are stopped dead between stations. It is now 7:20.

I've tried to read my book, but I am entirely distracted by the social experiment unfolding before me. Anyone want to guess how long it takes before a group of about 75 confined adults start collectively flipping out? Anyone? Beuller? Answer: about 23 Minutes. Here is a little of what is currently going on around me:

Update 7:26
Each time an announcement is made (of the may-I-have-your-attention-we-have-no-further-information variety) it is preceded by several pleasant tones to alert all the friendly passengers that a Message is coming forthwith. Somehow people can't seem to grasp this concept so each time the tones sound it is followed by a full 30 seconds of SHHHHHing that prevents us from hearing that they don't know anything.

After said announcement everyone immediately gets on their cell phone to tell one or more (usually more) loved ones that no, we haven't moved yet and no we don't know when we will move.

Update 7:42
They are trying to figure out if they can restore third rail power and if so determine which direction we'll move - east toward home or west back to a hub station. Please stand by.

There is a woman to my left who has the most annoying voice on the planet (think Janice from Friends) who doesn't know the appropriate decibel level in which to converse on a cell phone. She is alternately talking to two children and a husband so with every announecement I have to hear the same thing repeated loudly three times. It is apparently also her birthday. While I can sympathize with spending your birthday in a hot stuffy train car on a rainy friday night (did I mention its pouring out?) I wish she would stop telling her family over and over that she has decided to reschedule it for another day. It sucks. We get it. She is also apparently an engineer, because she knows exactly what the railroad folks shjould be doing to rectify the situation (I just sneezed and she said God Bless you - thank you but you're still annoying). Lots of "Why can't they just do X? Or Y? They should just Z and get us out of here already. Why don't they have procedures in place?" THERE IS NO POWER LADY. Let them take all the time they need to make sure I don't get electrocuted when I finally get out of this crazy tin can.

Update 7:55
There are lights on in the train but no air blowing. It is getting pretty stifling in here from all the body heat. The woman to my right just busted out a bag of doritos. At first I was jealous because its late and I am hungry. However after smelling her warm dorito breath for the last 5 minutes I want to gag.

Update 7:57
They just announced that passengers need to stay on the train. Apparently some have managed to escape (I guess from the gap between train cars). They are now walking on the tracks where they are trying to restore power to the THIRD RAIL. Now I don't know if it was just done in our part of the country but I distinctly remember seeing the This-is-what-happens-when-you-mess-with-trains video in school, complete with fried body parts. Why would you be stupid enough to step out on the tracks? And did I mention that it is pouring out? Electricity, water? Hello? We are now waiting for the police to come and get these morons (termed "self evacuees") and hopefully use them to test the successfulness of powering up that rail they know so little about. They will not proceed with attempting to get the power up until the idiots can all be rounded up.

Update 8:06
We are assured the police are on the scene now. We can't see any police out of the fogged up windows but we did just see one of those rogue passengers walk by on a cell phone. Not sure where he thinks he's going. I don't know that there is any outlet on this raised track between our train and the one stuck behind us. I hope he's calling his lawyer.

Update 8:08
Thank God for blackberries, at least it gives me something to do. After having enough of Mrs Annoying and her incessant complaining, I finally said out loud "I don't know what you expect them to do with NO POWER". She's been keeping pretty quiet since then, although she's now talking to her seatmate non-stop and I'm pretty sure her ear is hanging on by a mere thread.

Update 8:10
They may get a diesel train to come along side us and do an evacuation. Unclear what that means. Where will the diesel train evacuate us to? And will the train pick up the passengers from all 6 dead trains? I am starving now. I have resorted to rifling through my bag for bits of breath mints that may be lingering at the bottom. No luck yet.

Update 8:21
They think that all morons have been executed dealt with. They may proceed with "re-electrification". I also have to pee.

Update 8:31
Moron roundup mostly confirmed. They will proceed with "re-energizing". Once it is confirmed that power did come on (and no morons were fried in the process) we will proceed with plans to maybe go back the way we came. My stomach is growling audibly.

Update 8:48
Like Bruce Almighty, we got the power. Air and lights on, at least I can breathe. We should be going back west soon, they think. They may make an interim stop somewhere between here and the hub station. And my dad will try and pick me up. Interim station is located in ghetto-like neighborhood and father has tendecies to get seriously lost so not sure if waiting there for him is the best idea. But I need to get off. This. Train.

Update 8:54
Moving west at a "reduced speed for safety reasons".

Update 9:14
Off the traion at interim station. Standing on the sidewalk on busy urban sreet. I've got the fresh air I craved but now I'm freezing. Its windy and rainy - me and a bunch of about 20 random people are huddled under the train tressel trying to stay dry - both from the rain and from the passing cars going through puddles. I want my mommy. Now I really have to pee. I'm about to start the peepee dance. A phone call to dad indicates he's about 10 minutes away.

Update 9:46
Dad is lost despite navigation system. Fingers frozen. Somebody shoot me.

Update 10:03
Sitting in dads truck thawing. Once fingers thaw I will show him how to use the navigation system....or beat him over the head with it.

Update 10:32
Dad dropped me off to get my car in the station parking lot. Almost home.

Update 10:39
Sitting in my driveway. My house never looked so beautiful. My son's window is dark. Since the day we got him, this is the first time I've not seen him in an entire day.

Update 11:28
Greeted by my husband and presented with an awesome homemade meal. Pulled pork sandwich, roasted string beans, cole slaw and twice baked potato with bacon and cheese. I told him if I wasn't so dang tired I would throw him down on the floor and give him some good loving right there (he took a rain check). He tried to keep the baby up to say goodnight but the little guy couldn't hang in there any more. Took a hot shower and about to go to bed. Turned off the alarm clock. Don't wake me in the morning.


Jenni said...

What an ordeal! Surrounded by Ms. Hot Dorito Breath and Annoying Janice for 2 hours. Oh, the humanity!

I almost envy you for taking public transportation. Really, you just don't get that kind of material driving up the street to school.

You may enjoy/empathize with this post as well: Open Entreaty to the Guy Sitting Next to Me on the Train, Chuckling to Himself for the Last Seven Stops

Glad you made it home safely.

Bezzie said...

Wow, boy I can't WAIT to move there in ten days!!! Oh boy oh boy!!!

You'll have to let me know what line that was ha ha!

Julie said...

Oh, hon. That sounds like hell. Pure hell. No train saftey vids in this neck of the woods--not that most of us have ever even been in one. I'm glad you got home safe!

Jennifer said...

Totally classic commuter story. I sat on a train because someone was hit for hours once. It just stinks.

The worst is your in the control of someone else and we all know they are idiots.

Debbie said...

Sorry you had such an awful day. But that was the funniest story. Really made me laugh.

Andrea said...

"(I just sneezed and she said God Bless you - thank you but you're still annoying)." BAHAHAHAHA.

Funniest thing I have read all day. Seriously- I am snorting over here.

I am sorry it was such an ordeal- especially from someone who has been a train once in her life, not counting that stupid train at Denver International between terminals. I'd freak out in that situation. SO glad you faced it with humor.

Maggie said...

Oh. my. goodness. Thank goodness for husbands who cook and understand the need for rain checks.

mo said...

I honestly think that was a little slice of Hell itself. I am clausterphobic just reading that and was hanging on until the hot Dorito breath- it just about did me in. ICK!

Barely Sane said...

Man - sorry you had to endure that but am I EVER glad you had your blackberry because that was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. I loved it! It truly is amazing how oblivious some people are to their annoying habits.

Hmmmm, I wonder what fellow commuters were thinking about you??? LOL - probably wishing they had a blackberry too!!

Glad you made it home safe & sound.

Trace said...

From another daily train commuter, that was a hilarious and ACCURATE rendition of an annoying train ride. I could feel your pain (especially the peeing aspect since I have to go what feels like all the time). Ugh, the worst is having a smelly seat mate (BO or bad breath are the WORST) or a larger seatmate that spills over into your space.

chou-chou said...

Wow. What a freakin' nightmare. Thank god you had your blackberry to record it. (makes for a fun post to read, even though it was not fun to live through!)

Anonymous said...

What a day! So sorry!! Hope you were able to give the baby a big kiss, even though he was asleep.

Bumble said...

That was hilarious!! (For me) But not for you I'm sure! I can't S.T.A.N.D. the smell of Doritos on a good day, but in that situation, I think I would've croaked.

jeneflower said...

What a horrible day! But what a great husband you have. Wow.

Tricia said...

your awful ordeal made a great story! what a great hubby you have!

ruth said...

Your experience makes all the delayed trains I've ever been on look like the kiddie rides in an amusement park. I loved that you had a great homemade meal waiting for you at the end though. He's a keeper.

Beagle said...

'However after smelling her warm dorito breath for the last 5 minutes I want to gag.'


I have not done the train/subway commute thing since college. I don'think I'd be cut out for it now. I would have had to be sedated.

Your post has me rethinking my imaginary emergency kit. I'd add a protein bar and a couple of those tiny alcohol bottles you get on airplanes and maybe earplugs.

Lauren said...

I am so glad I don't have to get on a train to get to work. I tried taking the bus but I hated not having my car.
And to boot this was a Friday when all you want to do is get home fast. UGH.

Chelsi said...

This post was laugh-out loud funny!! Sorry you had to endure that but so glad you had your blackberry to record every moment for us. Your husband rocks!

Sharon G. said...

Ugh, sorry about your crappy commute. Soooo sweet that the hubby made that meal. I need him to have a chit-chat with mine, please. ;)