Track Tales

Sergeant Slow and his pokey B35

August 4th, 2010 by Conductor


The one evening I wouldn’t mind having a bus driver that was in a rush to get the run over with, I get the total opposite. Waits at a stop if he’s early until the scheduled arrival time, then, for the last 20 blocks or so has gone no faster than 8 miles an hour, despite the nearly total absence of any traffic ahead of us. Bus 983 seems to be in decent condition, so it’s definitely the driver.
On top of that, after sitting at one stop for two minutes, he wouldn’t open the door for a kid that ran up just as he closed the doors.

Pretty lame if you ask me.


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Sauna or Subway Station

July 14th, 2010 by Conductor


So the morning commute began well enough. The first bus that showed up is the one I got on. Uneventful ride to the subway station. Then the wait began, and the heat kicked in. Closest approximation to the conditions on the platform would probably be walking into a bathroom (that didn’t have a vent fan) about 10 minutes after someone else took a nice hot shower. Not quite like a steam room, but not exactly the cool crisp air one would hope to inhale in a room lined with tile. The difference between that bathroom and the subway platform is that eventually the former would cool down, while the latter just stayed that way. I suppose it could have been worse, since it wasn’t raining. Not a lot of things as unpleasant as being damp then having to stand in a hot humid room with little to no ventilation.

So about 10 minutes pass during the wait for a 2 or 5 train. The 5 shows up, which is ok since it cuts a couple of minutes off the trip between Franklin and Atlantic avenues. I get off at Nevins to wait for a 2 or 3, and it’s more like stepping into that bathroom I mentioned, only 5 minutes earlier. Mercifully, a 3 train showed up a couple of minutes later, and the wait on the 1 train at 42nd street was very short and noticeably less humid.

Headed home around 8:45pm, caught the F train at 50th street. Not by coincidence, the 50th street station inspired the title of this entry. This is that bathroom again, only this time the person’s still taking a shower. If you’ve ever spilled soup or sauce or something else that consistency on yourself, but it wasn’t really hot anymore, that’s pretty close to it.

And then I had to wait for 3 or 4 B35 Limiteds to come and go before a regular B35 showed up. Uneventful, not crowded, but it started raining just before my stop. My mini umbrella works just well enough to keep me dry from the bus stop to the front door.


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And then the train showed up…

June 30th, 2010 by Conductor


#5 Express Arrives at Church Avenue


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That’s a bit much for just riding the subway, no?

April 15th, 2010 by Conductor


So one night in April, I’m headed home from work, and for some reason took the 1 from West 50th St to the 2 at 42nd street Times Square, thinking perhaps the passengers on the 2 would be decent polite folk instead of the usual dregs of humanity they typically are.  Wrong again.  Old, young, doesn’t matter; they’ll do everything but knock you down to get that seat before you do.

But before that, I had to wait for that train to actually show up. In the interim, I noticed and surreptitiously snapped a picture of this young dude. I do not now how he managed to get his very, very green jumpsuit to match his headphones (or vice versa), but he did just that.  Seems like a lot of effort to coordinate just get on a train. Perhaps he’s part of a dance troupe and was on his way to join up with his crew, who no doubt were clad in similarly matching jumpsuit/headphone combos.

Note the matching headphones.

Note the matching headphones.

Ok, I don’t buy that either…


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Odd one. Shot down after already scrubbing the mission, returning to base, and hanging out in the O-Club.

March 3rd, 2009 by Conductor


Yeah, that pretty much covers what happened.

Not at all pleasant, but it is what it is.
No point in going further with it, as it’d just be a waste of time and energy, not to mention serving no useful purpose.

In other, non-emotionally numbing news, I’ve headed back underground.

Due to the inclement weather (rapid snow followed by frigid cold)  I took the Bus/Subway combo into work yesterday, and the Subway today (seeing as there were no buses and standing to wait for one… well it was just too damned cold for that). Yesterday the streets were a mess around here as usual, and I really didn’t feel up to dealing with all the people who have no idea how to drive on snow and ice. Same thing today, and probably tomorrow, maybe Thursday & Friday as well.  Monday wasn’t terrible, although the lack of a non-limited bus on the way home was annoying. Not as annoying as discovering I’d power walked 10 blocks to get home in time to watch House in HD (new TV), only to find a double episode of 24, a show I don’t watch and have never warmed up to.

Today was less pleasant, what with having to hoof it to the train, then wait forever for the 1 train at Times Square, which turned out to affect a good number of my coworkers as well. The ride home was uneventful, the playlist was good and long enough to last all the way home with tracks to spare, even with the walk from the subway to the house.

Yesterday I also made a decision that could turn out really well, or be the worst clusterfuck of a mistake I’ve made in a good long time. Not going to go into details about it just yet, though.

Check back in a few weeks to see if it’s going OK, or if I’m updating my resume and cursing excessively about what an idiotic mistake it was.

The only expectation I’m trying to take into this is that it’ll be different, which I feel like I desperately need.

To hope for the best… I’d like to, but at the moment, hope’s something people delude themselves with to stave off the inevitable letdown.

Aaaand that’s as close as I want to get to being this dude today, so I’ll end this here.


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The Great Unanswered Question (well, one of them…)

April 8th, 2008 by Conductor


(Originally posted in 1999)

Here’s an open question that I’d like answered.

How do you stall an electric motor? Specifically, the type they use on subway cars.

I’m really curious, because this problem has been occurring more frequently than I can recall. As a matter of fact, it’s been screwing me over in my attempts to get to work.


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This isn’t Kansas, but I do have a cousin named Dorothy…

August 8th, 2007 by Conductor


Hoo boy. What a week this was.

Monday, August 6th, 2007. My department moves offices from our digs on the 2nd floor to the 30th floor. I’ll miss the windows more than anything. The end of my day is spent moving my stuff upstairs and purging stuff I don’t need. Not fun, but necessary.
Tuesday, August 7th, 2007. I got home, and decided I didn’t feel like driving in to work the next day, so back to the Subway for me! This was not to be.
Wednesday, August 8th 2007. The thunderstorm was loud enough to wake me up briefly sometime between 4:30am and 6:30am. Thankfully, I fell back asleep fairly quickly (I think).
An F2 tornado in Brooklyn, two and half inches of rain fell in about one hour, and basically 95 percent of the MTA rail system came to a soggy, waterlogged halt, and stayed halted for the next several hours.

Then I woke up, knowing none of this had happened, only that it had rained during the night. Still didn’t feel like driving, so I clicked onto 1010wins.com so I could check for any major transit disruptions. I say major, because it has to be pretty significant to get reported; 30 minute delays often get unreported, and they almost never look at a subway map to make the connection that a problem with an uptown 3 train at Clark Street will affect not only the 3, but the 2 and if it’s long enough a delay, the 4 and 5 trains as well. That’s mostly the MTA’s fault, since they know where every single train is at all times, and can tell instantly if theres any kind of delay simply by noticing that a train is not moving when it should be. They could, and should make this data available to the public online, but they won’t do it because it would illustrate just how lousy the system is running much of the time.

Anyway, instead of seeing some minor delays, I see headlines of suspected tornadoes, massive flooding, and a link to the MTA’s web page listing which lines have been affected by the storm. This is bad. Why? Because it means there’s too many affected lines to list on the 1010WINS website. So I click, and they may as well have just posted this:
“Sorry folks, nothing’s really running and the trains that are running won’t get you where you need to go. If you manage to get on a bus, or own a bike, motorcycle or scooter, good on ya! Otherwise, just stay home. Oh, and don’t bother asking those people in MTA uniforms that will be standing around everywhere anything. While we agree they should be actively assisting the people paying their salaries in finding alternate routes, even if that just means telling you ‘Oh, don’t bother going down to the subway since it’s not running and won’t be until maybe tonight. Try the buses or walking instead.’ they are mainly a bunch of unionized slackers who pretty much show up to collect a paycheck while doing as little as humanly possible and will never do anything outside of their job description to help someone unless it’ll get them a promotion to a nigh un-fireable management position, where they get to wear a suit and tie and do jack shit for even more money. Sweet gig, huh? Umm… anyway, we’d apologize for the inconvenience, but we’ve got to to go plan the next fare hike/service cut package to screw you even more.”

The Gothamist has a pretty interesting time line of things.
From what I heard on the news, one woman was killed in a car accident as a result; what’s doubly tragic about that is that the idiot responsible for the crash didn’t have a valid license, and probably paid someone to take his drivers test for him. He probably won’t go to jail, and I’d be surprised if he even had to pay a significant fine.


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Track Tale from April 4th, 2005 by Carol

April 4th, 2005 by Conductor


Coming into work this morning, I got to DeKalb at 10:58am to catch my 11am B train.
A guy on the platform said the 10:50am
B had passed by at 10:55.
Off schedule, but no biggie, and I still had ten minutes to spare.

I figured I’d take the Q, which comes at 11:04.
It’s less convenient than the
B, but would still get me in on time.

By 11:10, there had been no B and no Q.

Finally a Q showed up at 11:15.
I debated whether I should wait for a
B, since that gets me in faster and more directly, but I didn’t want to chance it.
So I got on the
Q…..

Now I needed to switch at 34th street for a local to 49th Street.
And, when I arrived, happily a
W was right across the platform, so I got on.

And then, just past 42nd Street, someone pulled the emergency brake.


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Return of the neglectful webmaster (or this post needed a title)

May 11th, 2003 by Conductor


05/11/03 – Apologies for the lack of any updates. I’ve really neglected my web sites over the past year. Among other distractions, my personal life was basically torn to shreds by someone who wouldn’t know a good thing if it walked up to her and chopped her hand off like Darth Vader did to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.* And yes, I am bitter about it. Emotional investments like that are rare for me and to be honest I’d be happy if the ground opened up and swallowed her and I never had to see or hear her ever again. But enough about that. Not worth the time or energy; never was, and never will be.

Since last summer, I’ve been the happy owner of a 2003 Subaru WRX, the one bright spot in my life. I’ve been working my ass off for 3 years at my current job, and it was time for a new car. The ignominy of having to rent a car in my own town if I wanted to go somewhere on my own schedule had to stop. And stop it has!

$2.00 for a one way trip? No improvement in service, and the system as a whole is as bad if not worse than when I first put up this site, over 4 years ago now. I’m so glad I have a new car.

For the past three years, I’ve basically been taking a cab to the Franklin Avenue Station rather than ride from Church Avenue to Times Square on my way to work. The reasons for this can be found in Tales from the Track #1. The rest of the tales should be up soon, as I’m in a good writing mood lately. Anyway, that cab ride costs $7.00 a day, or about what I spend on lunch on average. So my total winds up being $11.00 a day for a lousy ride with drivers who should have their licenses revoked forever, followed by a ride that could be swift and uneventful, or turn into some hellish journey that would make Odysseus (Ulysses for you Roman mythology buffs) shed a sympathetic tear, so comical (in the Shakespeare sense) you just want to go home and stay in bed forever. It costs me $22.00 a day to park my car in Midtown, which is actually a decent rate. I don’t include gas since I tank up every week and a half anyway. While I still only drive to work twice a week (Monday & Friday), it’s becoming more and more tempting to push it to 3 or 4 days.

* – 6/9/2008 At this point in time I’d like to apologize for the utterly pathetic Star Wars reference in this post. It sounds worse each time I read it, but that’s what I wrote at the time, so it stays. The rest of it is pure bitter angry dude venting, which I’m fine with. Better that than bottle it up and let it eat away at you.


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