Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Transportation Triumph

Today's traffic alert e-mail:

As of 9:45 a.m., Midtown Direct trains (6600-series trains) are operating in both directions between Dover and New York , subject to delays of 30-60 minutes due to wire damage near Maplewood.

Gladstone Branch trains (400-series) will operate to/from Summit only. Customers traveling to/from points east should transfer at Summit Station to continue their trip.

Morristown diesel service (800-series trains) will operate to/from Summit only. Customers traveling to/from points east should transfer at Summit Station to continue their trip.

Customers traveling to/from stations between Newark and Summit: All trains in both directions will stop at the eastbound platform. Westbound platforms are closed.

NJ TRANSIT buses are honoring Morris & Essex tickets and passes.

Updates like this make me giddy because I am not on these trains anymore.

I rode the Midtown Direct from Millburn to Penn Station everyday for four years when I worked in the mid-50s on first sixth and then fifth avenues and later in Times Square (no, not on a corner). For three years prior to that I took the Hoboken Express train to - unsurprisingly - Hoboken and then the Tube to the World Trade Center. All were good commutes as far as NYC commutes go, an hour door-to-door on a good day, but good commuting days can be hard to find. Like the day the entire city subway system (so it seemed) flooded from a major midsummer storm and nothing, and I mean nothing, was running. I remember what I was wearing on that day (my beloved sky blue suit with the ankle long skirt, the only thing I would have changed about it); its calamity is still that vivid.

I get a similar rush of feeling on days the traffic report details back ups on Routes 3 or 80 and feel a particular euphoria whenever Route 495 is mention - the only direct route in or out of Weehawken and the main route to the Lincoln Tunnel. I spent five years driving the commute from Weehawken to Parsippany navigating its few highs and many lows, s0me days literally entering into vehicular combat just to get home (seriously, people, don't get in the left-hand lane if you're not even going to do the speed limit! 65 means 80 in New Jersey!)

Every time I hear an alert like this morning and know that it has absolutely nothing to do with me, I just feel blessed. And yes, there is gloating, I'm not ashamed to admit it. It reminds me yet again of how lucky I am to have found such a great apartment last year, how much better off I am now location-wise than I was then. Yes, it takes longer to get to Philly and yeah, I'm becoming intimately acquainted with 287 from tip to stern. And yet. I sat in my backyard yesterday afternoon with my laptop armed with music, key-lime fizzy water, and Hershey Nuggets and not a single siren was heard. Fortunately no one urinated adjacent to me either so it was all good.

Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen. Simple pleasures, ya know what I'm saying? Amazing how the little things in life can so affect my mood. I'm having a pissy morning in general, the back-to-work blah after a holiday weekend. The sky is cloudy and the air on the low side of cool that I'm just not ready to embrace just yet, best evidenced by the blue capris and t-shirt I donned for this chilly morning. Now I've just received news that I'm shuffling off to pitch in at our sister company down the road, so I won't even have the comfort of my own space to off-set the general ick of the day.

But at least I'm not on the Midtown Direct today or tomorrow or the next day and much as I miss working in the big city (Boy! Howdy!) I wouldn't trade this morning's commute for the world.

You gotta hold on to the little things that matter. That's all I'm saying.

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