Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nightmare on the Red Line

So there I was - leaving my new office with plenty of time to get to a babysitting gig in a suburb of Maryland. I even had a back-up plan that if I missed the bus from the Metro to the house where I babysit, I could quickly and easily (and cheaply!) take a cab. Perfect, right?


Behold of the beauty of a severely overburdened public transportation system: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. I hopped on the Orange line and had only a single transfer to make at Metro Center. Of the first train, up the escalator...utter and complete chaos.

A jam-packed train is sitting on the platform with the doors open - never a good sign - and the platform itself is quickly filling to capacity. I feel like we need those Japanese Subway Pushers to get things moving in the right direction. Minutes pass and passengers start to exit from the train. Sweet! Now I can get on the train. And stand there. Sweating, with everybody else. For what seems like hours. But is probably closer to 15 minutes (although I find out that other passengers had already been on the train as long as 20 minutes).

Then we move - hooray!
And we get to the next station - awesome!
And the engineer tells us the trains going out of service and to exit immediately - what the?!

Yep, an entire train, full to capacity, exiting back onto another almost-full platform. And then the train sits and sits and we stand and stand. And I realize I have to go call the people I'm babysitting for. And just, I mean "go" call, because I am sans phone right now. Luckily I have a fist-full of quarters and a payphone within site.

Quick call to 411 to get the digits. They give me the numbers, then HANG UP ON ME. Wait? Aren't they supposed to connect the call? Luckily I memorized the number; nobody picks up.

Quick call to 411 to get the digits. They give me the numbers, then HANG UP ON ME. Wait? Aren't they supposed to connect the call? Luckily I memorized the number; nobody picks up.

Yeah, I just wrote the same paragraph twice...on purpose. The same thing happened twice. At my wit's end, and with the upper level of the station quickly filling, I call my mom, to see if she's at home so she can access my email contacts online so that I can call the family's cell phone. Yes - we've upgraded to Defcon 3.

Four minutes for four quarters; better talk fast. Give her the password to my webmail; it doesn't work. Of course it doesn't! It's now nearly the time that I'm due at their house for babysitting and I'm out of options. "Please insert two quarters to continue the call." Check wallet - no more quarters. Click!

I descend to the platform one last time to see about catching a train. There's on in two minutes and one in 12. Yikes! The first pulls up and is already so unbelievably crowded that only 1-2 people can enter at each door. There are hundreds on the platform. This is hopeless.

So I dejectedly head up the escalator...again. And this time I'm going all the way up - to fresh air, to elbow room, to possibly buy a disposable cell phone. I need more quarters to let my mom know I'm okay, but I need cash. I buy some gun from CVS, get $5 back on my debit card and ask for two of the dollars in quarters. Guess what? They're out of quarters.

I then tell the guy panhandling outside the CVS that I'll give him $5 for eight quarters because all the banks are closed becase I spent to freakin' long underground because the freakin' Metro cannot figure out how to remove a disabled train from their freakin' tracks in a reasonable amount of time. This lovely gentleman has not been given one quarter all day. We chat for a minute and I give him a couple of bucks anyway and have to go to an ATM and then to Starbucks for some quarters.

Nearly two hours later, After having walked for blocks and blocks to find a payphone, I end up practically screaming into a scuzzy, bent one (the connection was bad, so I had to yell for my mom to hear me; mercifully she had found the people's number online and told them I wouldn't make it) still a mile from my house. Luckily the bus would soon be there to take me home.

Or not. I waited an extra fifteen minutes and then just shook my head with disbelief.

I took a cab home.


marlie1971 on April 29, 2009 at 6:37 AM said...

What a ride, eh ? Or lack thereof..........
It's not often you go to defcom 3 !!!!

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