40 Days and 40 Nights

I woke up more or less on time this morning. That is an unusual feat for this week. I think the three-day weekend threw me for a loop. That and the darkness. The impenetrable darkness.

Give me back my sun!

If I could live someplace that had lots of sun but still got four seasons, I’d be a happy lady. But alas, cold weather and lots of sun repel each other like magnets turned to face each other.

I was slowed down a bit by the tying of shoes, so I knew I’d be cutting it close to catch the train. See, I’ve recently decided that one of the more annoying features of my commute is in fact the drive to Malden. So, as an experiment this week, I’ve decided to take the commuter rail from Melrose – which I can get to in under five minutes, even when the traffic lights are against me.

The traffic lights were against me, and as I approached the railroad crossing, I could just sense that I would be trapped on the wrong side of the lowered gates, unable to get my car to the parking lot and dash for the train. Much to my surprise, however, the gates were not down and the bells were not ringing. I pulled in to park as close to the parking-money-taking-ticket-spitting-box as possible, dashed out, paid my $2, dashed back to my car to put the ticket in the window (why can’t Melrose be like everyone else and just have the box you shove money into based on parking space number?), locked the car, and dashed to the platform.

I grinned as I looked left to see if I could see the train’s headlights in the distance. I did not, so I started towards the Metro box to pick up a free paper. Then my brain kicked into gear and heard the muttering of annoyed commuters. This caused me to follow their gaze – up and to the right… Oh… the red-glowy-lights-of-information…

“…30+ minutes. We apologize for the inconvenience…”


“…flooding at Bradford, trains will be delayed 10-15 minutes…”


“…mechanical difficulties, the 6:05 departure train from Haverhill is running late by 30+ minutes. We apologize…”


The ladies whose gaze I mimicked were just realizing that our 6:51 was in fact the 6:05 departure from Haverhill.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I can’t waste $2. I could have gotten in my car and drove into Malden. I could have taken the orange line like I did only last week. But I would have wasted my parking ticket in Melrose, and that was simply unacceptable. I went across the tracks for a muffin.

After selecting my corn muffin and Pure Premium orange juice, I settled down at a table to munch. Then I heard the tell-tale ding-ding-ding-ding of the crossings going down. “I guess the train isn’t delayed that much!” I bolted. Across the tracks. Like the idiot I am.

It wasn’t really that close of a call. But my heart and brain were racing when I realized I had just crossed in front of the train heading from Boston outbound. The outbound trains don’t stop at all the stations in the morning. It was going at full speed.

The poor engineer was probably shocked silly that such an idiot maneuver had been performed right in front of his train. He blew the whistle, but by the time he did that I was already safely on the other side of the tracks. Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t be an idiot. Stay behind the gates when they close.

After I recovered from my adrenaline rush of near-death, I went back to munching on my muffin. I finished that, and grabbed myself a Metro. It’s a good thing I wasn’t sipping my orange juice at the exact moment I turned to page 2. The second headline on the page had the gaul to read, “T: Commuter rail on-time rate is greatly improved.”

Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha haaa haaaaaaa!

Unfortunately, the rest of my fellow commuters were already onto later pages. I could not share the laugh. Plus, morning commuters are something like beta fish – happier to be left alone.

The next wave of commuters started to arrive as an outbound train sped by again. We were probably a little too hopeful that the ding-ding-ding-ding was for our train. The 7:17 commuters were slightly confused, but much less annoyed than us 6:51 people. They realized that they would be able to get on our train, long before theirs would show.

Finally, our inbound train showed up. I saw several 7:17 commuters dash from their cars and homes at top speed, thinking they were about to miss their 7:17 train. But no, they merely missed the 6:51, which was oddly half-empty. I expected it to be jammed full, with extra 7:17 commuters on board.

The ride in was uneventful, and accompanied in my ears by Gnarls Barkley.

I cannot tell you how glad I was to hear the announcement at North Station that the orange line was “experiencing heavy delays due to flooding at Back Bay.”

October 12th, 2006 • 9:10 am • dinane • Posted in Life, Weather
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