I don't like getting out of bed before 8 a.m. It seems inhumane. Yet lately I have been forced into some early morning shifts with my retail job. That included being at work at 5 a.m. for a store campaign set up. I have mentioned previously how horrible the train is that I live near, so I opt for taking a bus to another train when I have to be at work before 7 a.m. The bus stops right outside of my apartment building, so it's convenient and means I don't have to walk the dark pre-dawn streets to the train. The only catch? At that time of day, the bus only runs every hour (ish). Meaning that on the morning I was due to be at work at 5 a.m. I could catch the 2:45 a.m. bus or the 4:34 a.m. bus (which would make me late). After much deliberation, I decided to have a cab pick me up and drive me to the 4 express train. I called at 3:30 and scheduled a car to get me at 3:45. The website said they took credit cards, so I was pleased with this solution, and thought myself to be very clever. Some relevant information prior to this sleepy stupor of 3:30:
1. A co-worker advised placing important things (ID, Metrocard, debit card) in a separate wallet, and along with my cell phone burying them in my coat pocket. If a mugging occurs and my purse is stolen, nothing of great value is lost. So the night prior I transferred these items into my coat pocket.
2. My debit card was cancelled back in December due to the Target hacks, and the issuance of the new one took a while. Eventually the card arrived, but the PIN was a few days behind. It had been okay, because I was using the card as a credit card, so I didn't concern myself with not having the PIN.
3. I really, really don't like carrying cash, in general and especially here (fear of mugging?) and so the extent of my cash is quarters for laundry.
I hopped into the warm car at 3:45, and we had gone about a half a mile when I saw that the car didn't have a card reader like a typical cab. When I asked the driver, he slammed on the brakes in the middle of the road and yelled "no cash, no good!" Then he proceeded to drive me to different bodegas in order to withdraw cash. Not only was everything closed at that time of the night, but I tried to explain to him that I didn't have a PIN and wouldn't be able to pull out cash. He insisted that I would. At the third store he stopped by, I was on the verge of tears. It was cold, snow lined the streets, it was dark and I honestly didn't even know where I was or how far away from the train. I walked into the store, attempted to withdraw money from the ATM and when I couldn't I begged the shop clerk to let me buy something and get cash back- which wouldn't work without a PIN. I was running through all the options in my head on how to get to the train and then work on time, when the guy behind the counter very kindly pulled the cab fare out of his pocket and gave it to me. I was blown away by his kindness. I couldn't believe that someone who didn't know me would help me out at such a time of need. I thanked him profusely and got back in the cab, to resume the lecture from the driver regarding their "cash only" policy (which I had tuned out after the first 5 times he said it). He finally dropped me off at the train, and I was running to make it on time. I ran into the terminal, reached into my pocket... and discovered that I had left my Metrocard at home. In my wallet. On my table. I decided I would just buy another one, but there were no machines or attendants at this specific terminal (which makes no sense), but I heard the announcement that the train would arrive in one minute. I panicked. Now I'm not proud of what happened next, but dear friends, it happened. I jumped the turnstile*. I jumped it and I ran up the stairs and skidded onto the train. I made it by 4:40, but was significantly traumatized by my morning. Bonus - all the adrenaline that kicked in before work allowed me to work a full 8 hours without feeling sleepy!
*I was later informed by a friend that the fine for jumping a turnstile is $250! Yikes.
Trotting down the street for a 6 a.m. shift, I headed to the G train at 5 a.m. I was a block from the station when a black, unmarked car slowed to a halt on the road. I was nervous, quickened my pace on the deserted streets and tried to ignore the slow roll down of the window. A man hollered "hey, need a ride?" To which I yelled "NOOOO!" and ran away. This kick-started my decision to start taking the bus that early in the morning. I can wait for it in the locked doorway of my apartment building, even though it means leaving 30 minutes earlier.
If my co-worker Steve and I get off at the same time, we both commute together on the E to the G. We did get off at the same time, but he told me not to wait for him as he was finishing up some things at work. So I decided to ride with another co-worker who was also leaving the store. An alternate route for me is the 6-L-G, so I decided I'd just ride the 6 down with Daniel. I got off at Union Square to make my L connection - and found the L train entrance taped off. This was unfortunate, but if I rode the 6 back up to Grand Central, I could find the 7 and then get the G. I backtracked on the 6 and hopped off. As I walked to the 7 train I saw the poster - NO 7 TRAINS RUNNING MARCH 1 & 2. Seriously?? The last option left? To ride the 6 train back up to 51st street (where I get off for work) and take my usual E-G route. This was approximately an hour and a half after I had left the store. I navigated the tunnels and as I entered the terminal for the E train, who should I see standing there? Steve. Of course, why wouldn't I? He just shook his head at my ridiculous story. This is my life. Hence this blog and my future plans to write a book...
This morning I was waiting for my 4:34 bus in the freezing snow and wind that blew my umbrella inside out. I was huddled in my apartment doorway, and saw a man also waiting. After 30 minutes, with the 5 a.m. mark approaching, no bus came. I walked over the man and we started to complain about the wait. Finally he said - "I am going to get a cab. You are welcome to share it with me." His name is Jose, and he lives across the street, so I decided this was a good idea. Also, he lent me his glove, because I lost one of mine, AND he insisted on paying the fare and saw me safely off to the 4 train. Yet another act of kindness.
I had dream the other night regarding having my little Corolla in the city. I dreamed that it arrived when I needed it to, I could drive to my destination and then it would just disappear. Because realistically, driving in this city, trying to find parking and paying for insurance would probably end up being more stressful than public transportation. So as it stands, I will keep compiling my crazy commuting stories for your enjoyment.
Also my blog just hit the 3,000 reader mark. Thanks everyone for reading and sharing!