Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting ready for V-Day?

Why don't you send him or her a nice, romantic Valentine's Day e-card like this one:


Nothing says love like the subway.

Thanks to Seana for sending me this!


Change, change, chaaannge...

A part of my commuting routine includes stopping at the newspaper stand in the Hoboken train station to pick up a mini can of Pringles and a Vitamin Water. I have this small fear that the employees at the stand have nicknamed me "Pringle Girl" because I barely have to hold up what I'm buying anymore. They just take one look at me and say "three dollars." So tonight as I was pulling out my wallet, some change had fallen out of the coin side. [Earlier at work I was putting ten cents into my negative jar and I must have forgotten to zip up that side of my wallet.] As I was slowly bending down to pick up the change, a man with a briefcase coming out of the Path station had bent down to pick up the quarters I had dropped. Now most people might expect that this man was being nice and returned my dropped change. NO. Instead he took the change, put it in his pocket, and casually walked off to catch his train. I wasn't really sure what to make of the situation, but when I turned around the newsstand man was cracking up.

"He just took your money!" He chuckled.
I shrugged as I handed over my three dollars. "Eh, it was probably only fifty cents."
"But still," he was beginning to turn red from laughing.
"Well I guess he needs the money more than I do." I smiled and turned around to hop on my train. Luckily, I ended up with a seat to myself for the whole ride.

When I got home I told my dad what had happened at the train station. He shook his head and said his expected "unbelievable." He was curious to know why I hadn't said anything and asked for my money.

I repeated "It was pocket change!"

I just have to make sure that I don't say anything too negative tomorrow at work, because now I am short on change.



I love when I remind other people to do things, but then I totally forget! So as you can imagine I didn't bring my transit checks to work...booo. So now I have to try and remember to buy my ticket tonight when I get off the train. Last month, I waited to buy a ticket in the morning, and there was this guy taking his sweet time at the vending machine. I usually try not to show my impatience, but this guy was definately testing me. He would slowly circle his finger in the air and then punch a button. Then he slowly took his card out of his wallet. And right as he finished, the bells of the train started ringing. I was so pissed, but luckily I still didn't throw my train pass out from the previous month. Most train conductors, and I think bus operators, will give you a grace ride in, but if you don't buy it for the return ride--then your out of luck.

The first time this happened to me I was already sitting on the train going home, when it dawned on me that it wasn't October anymore and I hadn't bought a new pass. Now if you buy your ticket on the train they will charge you an extra five dollars. So I got out the eleven bucks, and when the conductor came up to me I admitted to forgetting to buy a new pass and he just informed me to get it on Monday. This is another reason why you should always be nice and polite to anyone providing you with a service!


So note to self--buy ticket tonight and bring transit checks to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Its that time of the month....

Just a friendly reminder to buy your monthly passes! So don't forget to bring your transit checks to work--that is if you get them. Also, try not to do what I did last month. I bought my pass and then left it at the counter. So, relax! There's no need for rushing or pushing and shoving. The lines are going to be super long whether you wait at the ticket counters or the vending machines. We are all going to miss the bus and the train. Get a snickers or something.

Note: I'm trying to be slightly more colorful in the text....what do you think?


Monday, January 28, 2008

Do you have anymore gum?

I made a huge mistake today. I made eye contact with a man at the west 4th street station. I tried turning away, but he came up to me and asked: "Do you have anymore gum?" At first I didn't hear what he said, because I was listening to my iPod. But then he slowly repeated his question again as if I couldn't understand English.


"No." I tried turning away, but then he said something I couldn't understand and then ended the whole conversation with "...that's why."

Wait, was he trying to give me a reason why I wasn't giving him gum? Here's a reason, I don't give gum out to strangers. And that's such a weird thing to ask for. I've had strangers ask for money, the time, ciggs, but gum? Gum costs 50 cents. And I'm not trying to be cheap or anything. My mama always told me not to look through my bag in front of strangers.

Well, the lesson I learned here is--"stop chewing gum like a cow." And now I have the Billy Madison song stuck in my head.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Who's working for the weekend?

OK, really-it should be-who is working this weekend? Me. Booo. And I tried cheering myself up by singing a little bit of Loverboy. So for anyone else that has to work this weekend, hopefully this music video will cheer you up! (It's not the real one obviously, just a bunch of rednecks jumping around and chasing after unsuspecting geese. No offense if you're a redneck). Enjoy!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Cigarette Samaritan

I'm not one for speaking up in public. It is one of the things that I hate most in life, but I find that I am compelled to do it sometimes. There's always that person on the train who's fly is down, they dropped something, their pocket book is leaking and they stand their oblivious to the world; while, commuters like me stare and hope that somebody else speaks up to inform them. The worst is when a fly is down. I was on my way to Yankee Stadium one time and for half the train ride a young man stood right in front of my face with the barn door open. I always hope that someone will speak up before me, because once you inform the victim, they feel slightly embarrassed. Another reason why I don't speak up, is because usually I am THAT person and no one ever tells me.

This morning on the Path, as I quickly grabbed a seat, a young man sat down and his brand new pack of Parliaments fell out of his pocket. At the same time that the cigarettes fell on the ground, another person walked by. So at first I really didn't know who dropped the stoags, but it was pretty obvious when I noticed the man sitting down had a pack of gum sticking out too. Those who were sitting next to me looked down and noticed the pack, but went back to reading their paper and listening to their id="SPELLING_ERROR_2">iPods. Me, I stared at the pack on the ground, cringing at the fact that I knew I was going to have to speak up.

Now, I never speak up right away, because I wait. I'm also trying to transform into a true New Yorker by not giving a rat's ass about other people's problems. Someone could be stabbed on the train and oblivious to their wound while I will just stare.

"Is anyone going to tell that guy he's bleeding? No? OK--Sir..."

I try to evoke my special powers by staring into the person's eyes, hoping that I can mentally make them look down so that I don't have to speak up. I tried this last Saturday, when I noticed that a girl's pocketbook was leaking. Then when I pointed it out to her, she gave me a nasty look and said, "thanks." In which I called her a bitch once I got off the train, and then vowed never to point something out to a stranger ever again.

This morning was torture as I tried to remember that vow. I tried reading my neighbor's paper, but my eyes kept reverting back to the white and blue pack on the ground. I was glaring so hard, I'm surprised the pack didn't spontaneously combust. Thoughts were racing through my head like rockets.

"Should I tell him now?"

"I'll wait till I'm walking off the train."

"Should I pick the pack up and give it to him? But, what if they aren't his? Should I keep the pack of ciggs? Should I just throw them on the ground."

"Should I snap and point at the ground."

"What if he's a closet smoker and is trying to hide it?"

I was fixated on this small dilemma, while the guy just whistled as he read the paper. As we got closer to my station, a standing passenger moved into the train and kicked the pack of cigarettes. At that point I knew I had to say something. Someone was going to step and crush them. What a waste of ten bucks. At that point I stood up, and as I felt the train was starting to stop I started to speak up.

"Sirrrrr.....Sirr" I slipped as the train finally breaked. So I sounded like I had a stutter. "I think you dropped your pack of cigarettes."

And then what happened next was unbelievable. A guy sitting next to stoag man said:

"Yes, sir, those are yours."

My eyes almost popped out of my head. Who did this other rider think he was?!? It was me who saved the day and here he was trying to steal my glory! Jerk!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


After making that poll I was wondering, what else could you do on a train/bus ride? What would fill in the "other"? I thought about checking your e-mail. Eating tons of snacks, maybe? Doing your homework (I think that would might go under reading)? I don't know. Oh, here's one: hit on other passengers. Yes, this has been done to me. It was the weirdest train ride home I ever had, but that is for another discussion.


Whatever makes the ride fly...

So today I was noticing that most commuters choose to be doing something while on the train, bus, whatever. So I decided to make a poll, which you will find in the right hand side of the blog. What is it that floats your boat?

*Reading material.
*Listening to your MP3 (or even watching a movie on your player).
*Disturbing others by talking on your cell phone.
*Playing a hand-held game.
*And the traditional "Other."

Now, I'm sure the people who know me are assuming that my favorite past-time on the train is reading, but actually I feel like I prefer listening to my nano . I think its because I'm surrounded by books all day. And when I read for pleasure, I prefer to be stretched out on my couch, with my arms holding the book that I'm reading in the air. I have no idea why I read like this, but to me its quite relaxing. Today, I actually tried to read on the train, but I couldn't focus because these other passengers were talking about how cheap and easy it is to get a prostitute in Vegas now a days. And those passengers were old, so it was not a pleasant thing to listen to.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Safe Traveling

While walking through the 9th Street Path station, I happened to look down and see an unopened condom wrapper on the ground. My first reaction was "ugh, gross," but then I found it really funny for some reason. As I stood and waited for the train to come, I watched to see what other riders reactions would be. Most people just stepped over it and didn't even see it, but for the few that did--a smile spread across their face. One guy stepped on it and almost slipped. I imagined what would have happened if he fell.

Guy falls.
"Ahh, God, my back!" Rider #1 says.
"Are you OK!" Rider #2 reacts.
"Yea! I'm fine, what happened."
"You must have slipped on that white wrapper."
"What is it?"
"It looks like--oh man, you slipped on a condom!"

This imagined scenario, of course made me want to laugh out loud, but I didn't want anyone thinking I was a weirdo laughing to myself. So if you ever want to make a stranger's day, or bring a smile to all those tired, hard working people, then leave a condom wrapper on the floor. Just hope they don't slip and fall on it. That will not make their day.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Patience is a virtue. (Traveling Lesson #2)

I still don't think this is the video I was looking for, but close enough. When a train car is this packed, wait for the next one.

You would think that the officers, or train employees would be pulling the guy off the train!! There are days when I'm in a rush, but if a train is this packed, well, that is just way to many strangers touching me. Gross.

This is actually what the Path train looks like on most weekday nights, but usually it is the Journal Square train.




I was looking for another video, but I instead found this:

Leave it to Sesame Street to truly teach us what it is like to ride the subway.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Traveling Lesson #1

Today was the first time that I transferred at the Secaucus Junction and I learned a very valuable lesson. If you happen to be going to the Secaucus Junction terminal from New York Penn Station or any other train line, and the train conductor has not passed you to collect your ticket, TAKE THE TICKET WITH YOU. I've been to SJ and I got on a Long Branch Train at Penn Station, which happened to be packed. As we were nearing Secaucus, I was wondering what to do with my ticket. The conductor was still in another car.

I thought "maybe I should leave it and he'll collect it when he comes by."

But then the college student mind came in: "Whatever, free ride!"

What I have now learned is that you need that ticket to get into the Secaucus station, or else (I'm assuming) your stuck. Or you possibly have to buy another ticket to get into the station. I'm not too sure. The ticket works like a little metro card, so you have to pass it through the slot and the gate will open for you. Thank GOD, I kept that ticket.

Surprisingly, the Secaucus train station is super nice! And in the center room where you transfer to the Spring Valley Line, or whatever line you need, they have these old-school type of time tables, and when the time changes they flap really quickly. If I ever happen to be at that station again, hopefully I will have my camera and I can post something on You Tube! Yeaaaaa...I'm a nerd. But, that's what happens when you're always waiting for train, bus, people: the smallest things excite you.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Chivalry Doesn't Exist...[A Vent]

OK, so we all know this already, but chivalry definately does not exist--especially on the train. Maybe I am being a little anti-feminist. Of course, a man has no reason to oblige and let me pass in front of him, but grown men sometimes need to have a little bit more patience. If we can't practice chivalry, then at least alternate merging. Didn't we learn how to be polite and take turns when we were in kindergarten? We are all late for work! There's no need for you to push a girl out of the way just so you can get off the train first.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Am I the crazy one here?

Many of us who are familiar with public transportation have learned that there are weirdos out there. For the most part it is a sad sight and I do feel bad, but I also try to steer clear and avoid eye contact (with anyone--crazy or not) as much as possible. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.

On one occasion, using the local C or E from West 4th street, a homeless man was walking down the car shaking a Wendy's cup with change. He was shaking the cup to his own beat, stopping only in front of female passengers to tap them on the head with the dirty cup.

"Yes sir, hitting me on top of the head with a cup inspirits me to dig deep in my pockets to offer you change."

Now, I happened to be particularly cranky on this day. I had been working from 10-3 at my old job in NJ, had taken a one and a half hour bus ride to the city, sat through a boring two hour night class, and now was on my way back home to wait for yet another bus ride back to NJ. As the displaced man shuffled closer to the back of the train car, my eyes focused only on that yellow cup. The eyes of Wendy staring at me as her bright red braids bobbed up and down. I looked for ways to dodge the cup: swing around the pole, jump through his legs, hide behind a tall male passenger, but I only thought of looking away, hoping that I magically would become invisible. But I sure as hell didn't. From the corner of my eye I watched that cup shake slowly up and down, rising closer to the top of my head. I tried to dodge, but the inevitable happened as I was struck by the germ invested container.

What made things worse was that I ended up looking like the crazy person as I stormed away trying to find an empty seat on the other side of the train. And the guy followed me! And hit me again!

When I got home to relay the story to my family, my brother informed me that I was indeed crazy. That I should have just ignored the guy and let him hit me with the cup if that's what made him happy.

"And if you were in my place, you would have let him hit you?!"

Now I try my best to avoid any suspicious character. Even when they are speaking right at me in a drunk jibberish language.

But what happens when you begin to feel like the crazy person on the train? When trying hard to avoid other people, they are in fact avoiding you. A few nights ago, as I was in between transferring from the NY subway to the NJ Path train, I suddenly found my eyes filling with tears. There was no reason for me to be crying. I had just gone out with a co-worker for a drink and nothing was said that would have upset me, but by the time I had boarded the Hoboken Path train, my eyes were puffy, my nose was running, and everything was blurred by the waterworks I was displaying. Maybe I was tired, who knows.

The majority of the packed train was avoiding eye contact--as they should have been--but those who were curious would glance over, their eyes widened as they waited for me to "Praise Jesus" or start muttering to an imaginary friend named Wilbur or Natasha.

This has happened to me a few times, when the bad day shows or at least is beginning to show. You start breaking down, your hair begins to frizz and stand on ends, your eyes are puffy, fly is down, pimples popping. You curse people under your breath because they are walking too slow and they keep randomly stopping in front of you. Your eyes bulge as passengers confess their mushy love to their boyfriends and girlfriends over their cell phones. By the time you reach the front door of your house or apartment, a monster has been created. Eyes blazing--teeth bared.

"Work was fine!!"
"No! I don't want to hear about that article you read on German beer festivals."
"Yes! I am hungry!"
"[Roars] I'm going to bed!"

Then slowly we unwind as we put those comfy pajamas on and tuck ourselves into bed. Only to reemerge as monsters again tomorrow.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Why Hello!

I'm already disappointed with this blog. I guess it is a good way to start as this blog will serve its purpose as a place for me to rant and vent in my struggles of commuting. I really wanted to name this blog "The Waiting Room," but the URL was already used here and here. I was thoroughly upset by the latter as it clearly had good intentions of becoming a blog, but only ended up as a title and one line of "Hi this is a blog. surprise surprise." I also thought of "The Waiting Area" and "Journey to Work," but one was taken and the other was an idea inspired by Wikipedia (my fellow librarians are all rolling their eyes). Anyways, "Journey to Work" sounds too upbeat anyways. Oh and what do you know, "Journey to Work" is being used as well. At least this blogger started off with a good idea, but just never went through with it. Hopefully, I will not be daunted by the task.

So I guess I should start by introducing myself and the reason behind this blog, which I doubt anyone will read. I came to this realization (while stuck in the express bus lane into NYC) that I've been riding buses and other forms of public transportation for a decent part of my life. But mostly buses. There was the obvious grammar school and high school bus rides (the elementary school was right up the hill), but then there were the two hour Adirondack Trail rides to and from Albany during college breaks and vacations. There was the Albany city bus rides when I needed to go to the mall or to the Greyhound bus station downtown. Then eventually I turned into a regular, official New York City commuter--just like Dad. I thought that it wouldn't be bad. That I would become robotic and adapt to the commuting frame of mind. I think overall I have, but I have also developed certain anxieties from commuting. After having too many dreams of slashing bus tires, I decided to switch to the train, which I thought would be less stressful and more enjoyable. It turns out that with my Irish luck, it doesn't matter what form of transportation I might take, every so often the unexpected will happen.

Yesterday, for instance, I had an example of ping pong commuting, where you are forced to transfer 2+ extra times than normal. The day started out fine and CBS had mentioned some train and Path delays, but it wasn't until my train had reached the Essex Street train stop and a fellow commuter got out while screaming at the train conductor:

"The Path is down! My friends are stranded in Hoboken."
"Well, I haven't heard anything!" he said. "No one has called me, so fine, get off!"

And a few stops later...

"Path Train service is suspended from Hoboken due to a fire."


I had debated about getting off at the Secaucus Junction, but the North East Corridor line was delayed and everyone going to Hoboken was getting off at this stop. I then decided to try the ferry, but the waiting line was outrageously long, I had to pay five bucks, and I had no idea what subway station was closest once I got into Manhattan. I overheard other passengers mentioning that the light rail was free; however, we had to transfer at Exchange Place and then take the Path to the World Trade Center.


I was already late for work, so I decided to take a chance. While waiting for the next light rail train, I lost all feeling in my toes and cheeks from the freezing cold weather. Before we even reached the next stop, a message came over the speaker system:

"Path trains are now working."

So much for the light rail (which is surprisingly quite nice). The crowd and I all gathered and walked to the Newport/Pavonia station and there we waited for the next available Path train to 33rd street. Of course the train that came was already packed from Journal Square and I had to wait for the next one. Through pushing and shoving, I managed to make it to the city where another transfer awaited. As most customers cringed and groaned, I could only laugh. And I laughed even louder when I got to work, exactly on time with frozen toes and purple cheeks.

And that is my intention for this blog. To laugh at the phenomenon of commuting and hope that fellow commuters can share in the laughter. Or at least vent along.