I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m blogging from a train. I’ve never blogged from the train before because I’ve never really had a story to tell while riding on the train. Now I’m on the train and I have a story and so I’m blogging while riding the train.
To be honest, I’m not really blogging. I’ve got my luggage and my jacket and my laptop case and I just don’t feel like juggling all for the half-an-hour it takes to get to the airport. But I have a story to tell so I grabbed a pen and pad and I’m doing what men have done since time out of mind. I’m logging. I figure I’ll just transcribe it all later.
My story starts with a time and a place. The time is now, 6:45 p.m. on Friday, December 14th. The place is here, the Metro Atlanta Rail, North Avenue Station. (Technically, the story starts before now in a wholly different place but I don’t want to start then and there so I’m starting here and now.)
6:45 p.m. on a train probably doesn’t sound too bad to many of you. Many of you probably don’t have a flight to New York scheduled to leave at 7:07 p.m. I do.
Did I mention that it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the airport by train? I’m pretty sure I did. It’s a critical piece of information for anyone traveling from, say, the Lenox Station MARTA stop to Hartfield-Jackson airport. It can be used to determine when one should leave work in order to catch the train in order to catch the plane to New York that leaves at 7:07 p.m.
I, having traveled from the Lenox Station MARTA stop to Hartsfield-Jackson airport on numerous occasions, know that it takes about 30 minutes to make the trip. Even with my limited math skills, I knew I had to leave work around 4:30 p.m. in order to give myself plenty of time to make the train to make the plane to New York that leaves at 7:07 p.m.
Many of you are probably wondering how I arrived at a 4:30 p.m. departure from work given that my flight doesn’t leave until 7:07 p.m. and the train only takes half-an-hour to traverse the distance between Lenox Station and Hartsfield-Jackson. My logic goes something like this: I like to arrive at the airport at least an hour before departure. This gives me time to check bags, get a boarding pass, get through security, buy a cup of coffee or a cookie or some ice cream, go to the bathroom and get to my gate before boarding. In my mind, I should’ve been at the airport at 6:07 p.m. So I should’ve been on the train by 5:37 p.m.
Of course, the train isn’t always waiting at the platform whenever I arrive. As a matter of fact, it almost never is. The Metro Atlanta Rail Transport Authority offers, by the way, what I consider to be the most useless commuter rail service of all time. Not only does it go nowhere you want to go, it goes there with maddening infrequency. On the positive side, there are always seats to be had.
Seriously, the economic dim-wittedness of the service is astounding. It’s a commuter rail service that isn’t targeted to commuters. It’s targeted to people who have no other form of transportation – i.e.- people who cannot afford other transportation and cannot afford to support a train service that actually goes places people want to go at times they want to go there. You don’t know how many times I’ve spent 15 to 20 minutes waiting on a train, stewing over the sheer stupidity of it. Seriously!
Given those experiences, I built in 20 minutes of time to wait for the train and planned on being there at 5:17 p.m. I didn’t make it. It’s now 6:59 p.m. and I’m at the Oakland City station. The plane should’ve begun boarding about 15 minutes ago. I don’t think I’m going to make it.
Thankfully, the plane is delayed! There’s bad weather somewhere according to…give me a second. I’m going to New York to visit a new girl, one never before mentioned on this blog. I must come up with some pseudonym by which I can refer to her. Must protect the names of the innocent, you know. I could call her NYC as she is from New York City. By the same token, I could call her Manhattan. But lots of people live in those places and it just doesn’t seem right.
I could call her Shorty. That would be appropriate. But she’s actually taller than Little Irish Stout. (Most people are, honestly.) I could call her Curly. She used to wear her hair in these supra-curly locks. But she wears it straight now. We’ll call her…damn. I’m drawing a blank. I used to be so good at doling out nicknames. I guess we’ll just call her Blank until I can come up with something better. I’m sure she won’t like it and I’m sure I’ll get in trouble for it but them’s the breaks. You don’t choose the nickname. The nickname chooses you.
Anyway, Where was I? Oh, yeah. My flight is delayed until 8:24 p.m. because of bad weather or something. This strikes me as odd because I work for The Weather Channel and I checked the weather in New York and Atlanta before leaving work and it’s supposed to be clear at both the departure and arrival points. I even checked Chicago’s weather because that can sometimes affect Atlanta air traffic but didn’t see anything worth a delay. I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, however. The flight’s delayed and I think I’m gonna’ make it.
I might even have time to pee and grab a cup of coffee. It’s a good thing,too. I gots to go.
More soon. We’re at the airport and, for those keeping track of these things, it’s 7:10 p.m.
Short & Curly. That’s her nickname. It came to me as I ascended the escalator into the terminal. Not only is it descriptive, it is, in my humble opinion, really f*cking funny. It’s brilliant! She’ll hate it, of course, She’ll want some name that drips with romance and sentiment. I’ve given her a nickname that just drips. Surely it’s an inspiration from God.
I am now writing to you from seat 20F of Airtran flight 343 from Atlanta to LaGuardia. I made it, but only just. The plane was not delayed until 8:24 p.m. It was delayed until 8:03 p.m. Something must’ve been miscommunicated because the couple sprinting down the terminal with me mentioned 8:24 as well. Tricksy airline. We ran up just as the last few people were boarding. If I hadn’t gotten my boarding pass online earlier today, I would not be here. Any delay would’ve meant missing the plane.
Well, any further delay. I breezed comparatively quickly through security only to get off the shuttle at the wrong terminal. I read 11A on my boarding pass. What I should’ve read is D11A. Imagine my shock at arriving at the gate to find a Delta flight to Philadelphia waiting for me. Quick about face. Back to the shuttle. Why are these kinds of things always happening to me?
And why is it that the gate you need is always the one farthest away from where you are? Seriously, does anyone fly from the gates closest to the terminal entry point? I see people occupying seats in those areas but I think they are there for display purposes only. My gate is always far away. 11A was just over half way down the terminal, which means I had to cover the length of the terminal just to get there and back.
D11A occupied the same position in the terminal. I cover another half a terminal thinking that I’ve got just about 15 minutes to spare. Oddly enough, when I get there, there is another flight to Philadelphia waiting for me. What the hell is up with that? Do that many people want to fly from Atlanta to Philadelphia? Who knew?
My boarding pass clearly states D11A. Where the hell is my flight? (Okay, maybe it didn’t clearly state D11A. That’s how I ended up at 11A in the first place. But it did, upon further perusal, state D11A.) The attendant informs me that my flight has been moved to gate D2 “if it hasn’t left already”. This is when I began to think it best to run. Gate D2 is literally the last gate in the terminal. It’s even further away than D1. What the hell is up with that? I swear, I think they just like to see me run.
And why the hell is it that the people in front of me never seem to be in the same kind of hurry? They’re all strolling casually along like they have all the time in the world to get coffee or cookies or ice cream. They even seem to have time to go to the bathroom. Do I have time to go to the bathroom? Hell no. I’m racing through the terminal like OJ Simpson before he killed his wife, trailing streams of wetness. Bathrooms and near gates are for other people, apparently.
But I digress.
The whole point of the story is that traffic in Atlanta was worse than I’ve ever seen it. A commute that takes an average of 30 minutes and, on a bad day, takes me an hour and fifteen minutes, took me two hours. I couldn’t believe it. The one day I have a flight to catch and it takes me 45 minutes longer than it’s ever taken me to get home from work. Can you believe it?
But I did catch my plane, so I guess the charm hasn’t worn off completely.
It’s now 8:20 p.m. I’m on the plane. We’re in the air, headed for New York.
The “fasten your seatbelt” light is on.
I have to pee.