Thursday, September 15, 2005

"The UN made me late"

It's true. It was partly responsible for my being late.

Tuesday morning was a terrible commuting experience for me. I was to take a later train in to work, an express, but barely missed it. The next one wasn't an express. I mentioned a couple of nights ago that the express trains have better timing for those going to work, so they're packed with commuters. Thus those going into the city for pleasure are better off taking the non-express trains for the more available seating. Well, I dislike being among them because there are always a few who constantly chatter on their way to city shopping.

A couple of stops later, quite a few passengers came on. Of all the seats in all the cars on all the Metro-North trains, this woman sat in the one next to me. At six-plus feet tall, she must have weighed 300 pounds. Her friend sat across, and they yakked loudly, on and on, all the way to Grand Central. I still cannot understand how two people can carry on a conversation by talking simultaneously at each other, but they did.

The train was starting to get full, and I didn't want to risk not finding a seat, but I really should have moved to a quieter spot, or another car entirely. I turned up my Sinatra (someday I should get a pair of sound-insulating earbuds), but the large woman encroaching on my seating space made it impossible to ignore them completely. Then she pulled out the most odoriferous peanut butter sandwich, worse than you could imagine. It was like rancid peanut butter, spoiled Brie, limburger and sulfur dioxide (rotten egg) gas, and thankfully she consumed it quickly.

Arriving at Grand Central, I decided to take a taxi instead of the subway, which should have gotten me to work right on time. I never try to get a taxi on 42nd Street, because the lines are always very long during rush hour. It's easier getting one on Vanderbilt Avenue, where taxis are always passing by to drop off and pick up new passengers. But there were none to be found -- what was going on? I even walked one avenue west to Madison Avenue, where very few (all already taken) passed by in 15 minutes. By this time I was getting more than annoyed, since I was definitely going to be late. I went an additional avenue over to Fifth, where I finally got a taxi. Even then I wasn't home free, because midtown traffic was unusually chaotic. Commenting to the driver on how hard it was to get a taxi that morning, he told me what was going on.

I had forgotten: the UN started hosting its 2005 summit on Tuesday. The New York Post has more on the awful traffic congestion it's sure to create, appropriately calling it "Hell on Wheels." I should have just taken the subway and gotten to work slightly late instead of very late.

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