This week has been so grand not having to drive in the daily snarling traffic. It is such a relief and is so much less stressful, it is unreal. I honestly think my blood pressure might go down. But before I get carried away with the pleasant side of all this, don't think there aren't any stresses related to commuting. Let's see, there is the daily early morning drive to the bus stop (Hiram theater) where I honestly drive like a "bat out of hell" in an attempt to get there in time and not miss the bus. It's a challenge, for sure. I have been going to bed later than I should and then having a hard time getting out of bed. My goal is to fix that this coming week and get back on schedule - no matter what! In bed by 9 p.m. and up by 3:45 a.m.
Once on the bus using a CCT paper card, the next challenge (if I'm by myself) is to avoid getting sat on by that rather "large" woman I spoke of in an earlier post. Once that situation is under control, I am next challenged with getting into the MARTA rail station using the Bus to Rail Transfer card the bus driver gives me every morning (if I remember to ask for it). Out of the last three weeks, it has worked properly at the turnstiles three times. It's not user error as I swipe it as I was instructed by the MARTA employee (remember my one-on-one swiping lesson from last week?). They just don't consistently work. Luckily there is usually a MARTA employee there who can authorize entry using their own card.
Next the challenge is to catch the northbound Doraville train. We usually miss it because we are wasting time at the turnstiles trying to get into the station. Another train is usually not far behind but we still have to wait 5-8 minutes for it's arrival. Once on board that train, it's a nice 20-25 minute ride to the Brookhaven station. From there we usually have a few minutes until our complimentary van arrives to take us the rest of the way.
Coming back, it's about the same except that I use MARTA's Breeze card for entry onto the train and onto the bus. It works every time, without fail. Well, except for the bus (CCT) rides I put on the card on Wednesday and Thursday which would eliminate the need to use the paper CCT card and thus the Bus to Rail Transfer that never works. Anyway, on Wednesday I purchased 10 rides ($13.50) but found out when they didn't work on Thursday that they were for local rides on CCT not "express rides" which is what I'm doing. So, on Thursday I invested another $47 for 20 Express Rides on CCT and put those on my Breeze card. I thought all was well but this morning the Breeze card with the CCT rides didn't work again. Thank God I had the paper CCT card I had been using as a backup. I called the Breeze folks at MARTA and she said the fare box on the bus must not have been working. I'll try again on Monday and see what happens.
I must say it is very frustrating trying to get to know the system and understand what is expected, not to mention trying to catch the right bus at the right time and the right train at the right time. I think that I could write a "Dummies Guide to Successfully Commuting in Atlanta" manual and probably would make lots of money thus eliminating the need for me to commute!
With all that being said, I try to entertain myself so I don't get bored with the whole thing. Let's see - I now have my Zune which is wonderful, I might add. I am working to get more CDs loaded and will sign up with a service so I can download movies and even upload movies off my DVDs and convert them to my Zune. The Zune has an awesome 3.2 inch color display and great sound. I've been watching some NBC News podcasts that are updated nightly and I've downloaded some Cesar Millan episodes to watch and there are scads of other podcasts I haven't even looked at yet. My unit is the 80 (GB) so I can store up to 20,000 songs, or 25,000 pictures, or 250 hours of video. I'll never fill it up but I will certainly have fun trying!
Besides the Zune, there is definitely ample people watching available during the entire commute from Hiram to my building on Clairmont and then back. I just sit, listen or watch my Zune, and watch the people. Yesterday we were waiting for our bus at the Five Points Station and a man rode by on his bike with a boom box attached to the handlebars. Cracked me up!
I will start carrying my Flip so I can record a few snippets of the funnier things we see! Sometimes the free entertainment is better than the stuff we pay for!