Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Perils of Public Commuting

As some of you know, I've joined the masses in using public transportation to get to and from work. My one-way commute is 41.7 miles so anything is an improvement over that. And with gas prices rising daily, it's much more economical, to say the least. I can certainly afford the two tanks of gas a week it normally takes me but I refuse to support the high prices. There is no reason it should cost so much. I believe it now costs me about $4 a day to commute using the bus and train.

So, the morning starts at 3:45 a.m. when I roll out of bed. I shower, feed the girls, eat breakfast, do some email, do makeup and hair, dress, crate the girls, and get out of the house by 5:15 a.m. The Express Bus that I ride from Hiram leaves the Hiram movie theaters (that's where we park) at 5:35 a.m. Once on that bus, we pick up a few folks along Thornton Road. Well, that's where the story gets kind of funny. For the two weeks I've been doing this, there is a woman who gets on at the BP station on Thornton Road. She is a rather large woman, well, I'm being nice there - she is actually fat. And, unfortunately, with all the empty seats on the bus, she always sits by me. Or I should say "on" me. The seat just isn't big enough for her ass so she spills over onto me. Today, I tried something different in that I sat further back on the bus, thinking she wouldn't see me but no, lo and behold, she scouted me out and plopped her fat self down right beside me. It is quite uncomfortable to endure for the ride to the MARTA Five Points Station where I am then, thankfully, set free. Typically this isn't a problem as my cubemate usually rides with me and sits beside me. Unfortunately, though, he is on vacation this week so I have had to fend for myself and obviously I haven't been doing a good job of it. My friend also drives to the office on Thursdays so that is another day that I have to grin and bear it, I suppose.

The other morning I got on the train and stupidly sat beside a man who smelled as if he had just finished a 6-pack of Bush beer only a few hours before. And that's a 20-25 minute ride. UGH!! I could hardly breathe and felt I'd certainly get drunk on his second-hand fumes.

Once at the Brookhaven Station, I disembark and walk down to the street level where there is usually a van, compliments of the Department of Revenue (where I've worked as a contractor for the last four years), waiting to take a group of us the remaining 10 minutes to the building where we work.

The other afternoon on the bus ride home, I sat beside a rather nice black gentleman who coincidentally works as a contractor at the IRS. I thought that was a hoot. Who would have thunk it? We certainly didn't chat about taxes!

Needless to say I spend most of my days strategizing my commute and how to make it all more comfortable. One effort on my part toward that goal is the purchase of a new Zune. It's Microsoft's answer to the iPod and is suppose to have better sound and video than the iPod. It will keep me occupied watching movies and listening to ebooks and music. One of the factors in my decision to get the Zune instead of an iPod is that at this time it has far fewer accessories than the iPod which will ultimately save me more money as I won't be inclined to "buy this and buy that".

This morning was definitely a step in the right direction despite getting sat on like a chicken egg on the bus! The train was slammed packed full of people when even more of us stepped aboard at the Five Points Station. This black gentleman actually asked me if I'd like to sit (there were no more seats) and then proceeded to get up so I could sit down. Obviously I took him up on his offer as I am still lugging my personal laptop to and from work and it does get rather heavy after a little bit of time. That was very nice of him and actually instilled a bit more faith in me that mankind isn't all that bad after all.

And today I was successful in getting the MARTA turnstile worker to show me how to swipe the bus to rail transfer card so that the turnstile would open for me. I've not been able to do that since beginning this adventure last week. Normally the same little guy will just tell me, "you're holding the card wrong". Well, no kidding Einstein. After that he usually will then swipe his card which will open the turnstile for me to get into the train station. I was in the right mood (after the uncomfortable bus ride) to stop and ask the little Marta worker, "well, show me how to hold the card so it does work". Imagine that . . . providing information to an individual so they learn and, therefore, won't need to bother you the next morning. What a novel idea. He reluctantly showed me the "right" way to swipe the transfer card. I hope I won't dissappoint him on Monday when I try using his instructions. We can only hope . . .

The bright thing in all of this is that I practically still have a full tank of gas from the fill-up on Sunday! Can't beat that! And I am much less stressed when I get to work and when I get home, which is also a good thing. I'll continue this new mode of transportation as long as I can as I rather enjoy sitting and letting someone else do the driving. That, in and of itself, is the best part of it all and is definitely well worth the effort! Pin It


Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

And I thought I got up early.... you have me beat by an hour and you aren't even a radio show host. Happy Friday!


greytblackdog said...

Jen, you stole my line! She could totally be an am talk show host with hours like that!

Kiki, you need to start keeping a little notebook with you and make notes of all the funny, interesting, kind, crazy, weird, smelly, sad, kookie, and zany people you encounter on your daily commute. How fun! It would make for a fabulous blog entry.

I hope your fluffy friend doesn't continue to grow width wide! You might end up in the aisle before long.

Oh, and there's a reason why the Zune doesn't sell like the iPod. It's because they are way more problematic. I have 2 iPods and and iPhone and I don't have 1000 accessories and I don't have crashes, problems or drama. You know Steve Jobs is the best :)