So it’s been a bit over a year since I made the “big move” from New Jersey to the Washington, DC Metro Area. Having spent several years in the purgatory of having to drive to work, I was looking forward to having a job where mass transit was a real option. For a year now I’ve been riding the MARC train down to the Rockville, Maryland station and then taking the Washington Metro to my final destination. By and large, it has been worth it.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my observations:
Escalators are a mystery. At least in Metro stations. There are three entrance escalators at the Medical Center stop. In the morning, two of them are going up, one down. That makes sense, as most people are commuting out of the station. But in the afternoon, as often as not, it’s not two down and one up. Is someone forgetting to flip a switch at noon time? I don’t get it. Further, the escalators for the platform at Rockville have been being worked on for a long time. One is open, but not moving. The other is closed. The tools and materials have been cleaned up for over a week, but they still haven’t opened it. I just don’t get it.
Traffic is really light in the summer, but comes back with a vengeance in the winter. A couple of times over the summer I drove to work instead of taking the train(s). I hit some traffic, but not much. I openly wondered why I was taking the train for an hour-and-a-half instead of an hour drive, with all the extra flexibility that would offer. Well, I got my answer last week. I slept late and missed my usual train. Instead of taking the next one 30 minutes later, I opted to drive. It took me three hours to get to work. There were no accidents; it was just congestion. My commute home was little better that day.
I have taken to dozing on the train in the morning. I’m not really falling asleep, but not fully awake either. I’ve managed to not miss my stop yet, so that’s good. The trouble is, I’m getting conditioned to sleep on the train, and so it’s becoming hard for me to stay awake. The longer I live, the more I feel like one of Pavlov’s dogs.
I like the morning commute better than the afternoon. In the mornings people don’t really talk at all; the train is usually quiet. It’s noticeable when someone is having a conversation. Afternoons, some cars are regular parties. Not my favorite way to unwind after work. Thank goodness MARC usually has a “quiet” car.
My train goes over I-270 near Gaithersburg. I-270 is almost always bumper-to-bumper, moving at about 20 M.P.H. Whenever I see that, it makes me glad that I’m on the train.
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to rush. The other day I actually woke up on time, didn’t hit the “snooze” button, and was ready to go earlier than usual. I decided to catch an earlier train. I arrive at the station, get out of my car, and hear the announcement: The earlier train is 25 to 30 minutes late. Which is about the time my usual train will depart.
As we say in New Jersey: Sometimes you can’t win for losing.