Sunday, May 19, 2013

Age before beauty is me on NJT


I would never pan out as Miss Subways. First, when it comes to locating MTA stations in Brooklyn, I can most often be found circling the block like a mad cow. Second, the contest ended in 1976. Third, and most gravely of all, I'm no ingenue with big dreams and coifage of any kind.

But if Miss New Jersey Transit were a contest of only strength and skill, I might have a slightly warm snowball's chance at a title. I can do a lot of pushups. I can also pull off the following:
  1. I know, and do not hesitate to take, the shortcut through the garbage tunnel in Penn Station.
  2. I can sit in exactly the right car to jump off the train 2-5 steps from the platform stairwell leading to the exact door to the street which is closest to my final destination. 
  3. I never, ever, get stuck in a seat facing backwards. Barf.
  4. I have long since overcome my curiosity about the chirping bird noises blaring from a single loudspeaker downstairs underneath the NJT departure board near the Krispy Kreme. (But seriously, WTF?)
My commuter craftsmanship stems from brutal repetition. If you do something fifty thousand times, you get good at it. I've been doing the NJT thing since 1998 when they told me I could no longer bum a ride in the Pfizer inter-office mail truck. I haven't gotten on the wrong train since... like... never. So color me shell shocked last week when I boarded the Trenton Local by mistake. 

I had leisurely ambled down the platform in Penn toting a gigantic and mediocre strawberry smoothie. The Midtown Direct to Dover was not scheduled to depart for a full 6 minutes. I stepped onto the train. And the doors closed behind me and we were off. Jesus Christ on a Bike. I was on the wrong train bound for unknown Jersey wetlands.

I flagged down the conductor and inquired how I might most promptly get myself off this train and onto the Dover line. With true good egg sincerity, he told me I could simply switch at Newark Broad Street, no worries. I settled down in a seat and observed the strange habits of commuters going somewhere different from where I wanted to go.

At last, we approached Newark Broad Street. I was not caught unawares. The conductor's voice boomed over the PA, "IF ANYONE HAS ACCIDENTALLY BOARDED THIS TRAIN AND NEEDS TO SWITCH TO THE DOVER LINE, GET OFF AT THIS STATION STOP.

I REPEAT, MISDIRECTED DOVER-LINE PASSENGERS ON THE WRONG TRAIN SHOULD EXIT NOW. AND MIND THE GAP."

Thank you, Mr. Conductor. My Miss NJT crown has now been publicly surrendered. Good luck, Miss June.


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