I commute to work. During rush hour it is a 50 minute, 17 mile drive. Or a 35 minute train ride.
Unless there is a Windnato.
(Windnato is a real word. Windnato: from the meteorologic To Be Freakin'Windy and not in a Tornado way but in a Big Bad Wolf – That's Right, I AM Going to Blow Your House to Oz. You, your half brick house, your train and Your Little Dog TOO! Due to poor organizational skills, Windnato does not get the respect that Tornado gets. It should really try harder.)
On the day that Windnato hit I got out of work about an hour early. (This will be important later during the math portion of this post.) It was my next to last day of work. Bart, who had been gone overnight, would be home. As I walked down the fifty stairs to the platform the wonky alarm was sounding.
Nothing good ever comes after the wonky alarm. Wonky Alarm sound something like this: "Looo-ser...Looo-ser....You're Screwed....Looo-ser..."
It seems, Windnato had taken out one third of the train route with a flying cow or house or something. Consequently, we Eastbounders would be... (scary, dramatic pause where you see the shadowy figure with an ax lurking just behind you) Bus Bridged.
Until this day, I have managed to avoid the Bus Bridge. I assumed it was something in the universe that prevented all manner of bad things happening to me. Turns out, it was just dumb luck.
I dutifully walked, with the rest of the Eastbounders, towards the bus depot where we were semi-assembled on the grassy knoll alongside Taylor Ave. Taylor is one of those oldish city streets which is fed by no less than two side streets, two parking lots and the aforementioned bus depot. It is also crossed by the now FEMA certified train tracks.
Instruction was minimal. Mostly 'The buses are on their way' and 'Please stay out of the street. We are already having a bad enough day and don't really won't to have to scrape you off the pavement.'
The first bus arrived to cheers only to be soundly booed when it was noted to be (ONE) packed and (TWO) Westbound.
Four packed buses later, I crammed onto the back of an Eastbounder. Where I was promptly offered a swig of Strawberry/Kiwi wine. People were laughing and comparing Bus Bridge horror stories. Camaraderie was high.
For one block.
It really got ugly as we circled the block where we were first picked up. There was discussion of the right on red capabilities of the bus company and the IQ of the driver. Also his genetic legitimacy.
Then it began to smell.
And then it got quiet.
Quiet is never good.
One hour later we arrived at the first working station for the Eastbound train. It was one stop east of where we started, maybe two miles away. Let me state this again.
ONE HOUR LATER.
We piled off the bus and towards the platform where we were greeted by a train on our Eastbound track. However, the train was heading West. In train lingo this is known as Single Tracking.
It is exactly what it sounds like and it is terrifying. You are essentially riding a train into on-coming traffic with only those pretend train track traffic lights to protect you.
There were a half dozen smug westbound riders pressing their faces upon the glass of the windows staring out of their warm cars as we Bus Bridge refugees stood huddled under the fluorescent heat lamps as Windnato continued to blast us with Arctic Vortex furry. Clouds sped past at nearly 45 miles an hour.
Which is much faster than any mode of transport had moved thus far tonight.
I was beginning to curse the fact that I had been lured by the unseasonably warm 60 degree forecast and left my hat at home. My coat was warm but as discussed in other posts, scrub pants are little more than glorified bed sheet pajamas. My legs were morphing into Otter Pops and then it happened.
The Wonky Alarm sounded.
And the train conductor announced, "This train in out of service. It will resume service Eastbound".
Confetti fell from the sky and someone sprayed champagne as a cheer went up from the platform. (or it may have been a two liter soda and some shredded newspaper caught up in Windnato's fury. But the cheer was sincere.)
A toxic cloud of curses boiled from the train cars as the doors open to expell those smug Westbounders who were now being directed to the ...BUS BRIDGE!
Forty minutes later - at the time I would normally have gotten home if I had left work at the regular time - I arrived at my home platform.
It was pitch black. As was my house.
It seems Windnato has NO respect for Thursday night television.
I swore I would never ride the train again.
I drove in on Friday. I had plans to meet some friends later and once again the work Gods were with me and I was released 40 minutes early. Perfect. I would meet the girls at about the time I would have been leaving work.
The van refused to start.
I have come to the conclusion that either I am not allowed to leave work early or I am never going to work again.
Since the later is not a possibility I am researching sacrificial items to offer up to the Gods of Mass Transit and the Goddess of 2002 Venture Van Fuel Pumps.
Because nothing is sweeter than arriving home before you should have clocked out.
*I have calmed down a little from this harrowing episode. Although there were several fiery phone calls home during this entire ordeal. I tend to start off taking delays in my routine very personally and expect Bart to fix them, immediately. He offered to rescue me numerous times but I was feeling martyr-ey. Once I calmed down I started playing a game of It Could Always Be Worse and realized that I am lucky to have people who offered to rescue me at any given time, I didn't have small children waiting extra hours in daycare for me to finally arrive and I had a coat.
**Windnato was a nightmare. Winds were clocked at 40-45 miles an hour and took out power over apx 1/3rd of the Coast of Illinois area. It also appears to hate train track cross bars as I counted about fifteen broken ones on that final ride home.
***In an effort to make driving better, the Coast of Illinois has opened a new bridge. It is beautiful and named after Stan Musial. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Stan, the Span:
|Stan is gorgeous with suspensions that mimic the Arch. Thanks to my friend Julie for the pic. When I tried to take one all I got was rearview mirror and car sick.