My, my what a week it has been. It started out with 20 degree weather and snow on the ground and will happily end with 70 degree weather and blue skies. We usually have a freak Spring snow storm, it seems. Pretty weird, but it happens. Never in the winter but usually in the Spring. Go figure. Only in Georgia!
In spite of the cold, snowy start, the week really didn’t seem to get any better. Well, not until today with the temperatures soaring into the high 60’s and beyond. There will be many folks playing hooky this afternoon, I’m sure of it. I, myself, am leaving shortly to go run some errands and then head home to start cooking for our wine tasting benefit tomorrow evening. We also have a Meet and Greet in the morning at Pooch Porch Café in Alpharetta. Busy, busy, busy!
But I should share with everyone some of my mass commuting experiences of the week. It began on Monday morning. I was not physically present for this one, however, a full blown description of the event was provided to me by my workmates. I happened to have been on the train directly behind the one they were riding, thank God, so I did not witness this. I would have died laughing I think, and probably would have been shot on the spot.
Nonetheless, it was a very frigid morning with the temps barely breaking 20 degrees. This is, of course, about 6:15 a.m. I don’t think the sun was even up at that point. So what happened on the train, you ask? Well, my workmates were sitting in the train when a fellow rider got up from his seat and promptly walked to the end of the train car. You can walk from train car to train car by opening the doors (just like in the movies), however, this is suppose to be for emergencies only. I guess this must have been an emergency, at least for this man or at least in his own mind. He stepped out of the train car, turned to his right and then put his head down, never venturing to cross over to the next train car. He then stood there for a minute and then shook himself a bit. He fumbled around a bit, and then walked back to his seat. Yes, you guessed it, he was relieving himself. In the frigid weather, no doubt, while the train is moving about 50 mph. I’m surprised he has a weenie left after that display. Again, I would have died laughing and probably would have been shot for doing so.
Wednesday morning we were leaving our train station in our shuttle van, heading to work. Walking across the parking lot was a black man on the arm of a white, red-haired woman. None of this was odd, but the fact that they were both blind is what struck me. Yes, they both had walking sticks so it was apparent they were blind. They quickly crossed the parking lot, heading straight for the turnstiles to enter the train station. Once at the turnstiles, they found their MARTA cards which gained them entrance into the station. They walked straight across to another bank of turnstiles which led to several MARTA buses waiting to take passengers to different areas on their routes. They passed through those turnstiles and then climbed onto one of the waiting buses. I just sat there watching this entire thing with awe and wonderment. It struck me as so, because those of us who are sighted have such a difficult time with the MARTA system (sometimes, well, yes maybe a lot of the time), so that it is totally awesome that folks who are challenged are able to navigate through the system and safely get from point A to point B. I’ve seen many blind folks in the stations during the last year and every time it moves me more than the last.
Then yesterday on the train from Brookhaven to Five Points, the train stalled at the Lindbergh station, for what appeared to be, no apparent reason. We sat there for about 20 minutes and then were asked to leave our train and wait on the platform for the next train waiting to approach the station, which we did. Then a train on the Northbound track approached going Southbound. A bunch of folks got off that train and came over to our train. We then sat there for another 35 minutes or so, with the doors open, and people milling about here and there. Another train came on the Northbound track, going Southbound. We thought it was there to pick us up so we all disembarked and went over to that train. On the train signs, it said it was headed to the Airport which would have been the direction we were going. Once on the train, the conductor announced that no, it was headed back Northbound to the Chamblee station, basically where we had started from. That was definitely not the direction we needed to go so we quickly disembarked, running back to our original train which was still sitting there.
Apparently at the very next station there had been a fire on the tracks, actually on the Southbound side which is why we were detained for so long, although the word on the streets at the time was that there was a fire in the tunnel. Neither situation was good for us as no trains were going Southbound or Northbound, between the Arts Center station and the Lindbergh Station and we had to get past the Arts Center station to get to Five Points to catch our bus.
Our original, now empty, train was directed to go ahead of us. We figure it was the “sacrificial train”. If it made it through the tunnel, then they would send in our train, which was now full of people. We had been sitting there for some time and these trains normally run through a station every 5-8 minutes, so you can only imagine how many folks had piled into the train by then. About 10 minutes later, our train finally closed it’s doors and then proceeded Southbound, very slowly, I might add. I guess so that if we did go through any fire, we would suffer even more, especially at that speed.
We finally made it to the Five Points station. What a relief – finally - free, free at last! It was so hot, and people were so packed in that train you couldn’t move. My workmate and I practically ran off the train, up the escalator and across Peachtree Street, to where our bus would pick us up. Air, fresh air, it was delightful. And cool, finally, it was cool. Our bus arrived in just a few minutes – we were lucky we caught one so quickly. We promptly boarded and headed to a seat. I noticed even before we sat down, that it was pretty hot in there. I asked another rider and, sure enough, the air conditioning was broke. But, thank God, buses usually have escape hatches on the top which can be opened, much like a sunroof. They were open and provided some relief, especially if the bus was moving pretty fast.
Unfortunately for us though, there were two wrecks on I-20, both of which had traffic backed up forever or nearly so. We sat and creeped, sat and creeped but finally made it to the bus depot. After the day was all said and done, I finally arrived home around 6:30 p.m. I left work at 3:45 p.m.
Today, I decided to drive myself!
Just a few observations and experiences from the week – the weekend just has to be better!