Saturday, July 28, 2007

Full force!

This afternoon I received a message from my Dad who was stranded on a train just outside of Jamaica. There was a suspicious package on the platform that caused delays that lasted over an hour. The LIRR shut down.

While waiting for the train to move my Dad called the LIRR hotline to find out more information. When they gave him the details that he already knew he asked if they had a plan other than just sitting and waiting. Guess what.....they didn't! SURPRISE!!!!

I later received this email detailing the maddness at Jamaica once it was reopened:

When I got off the train at Jamaica to switch to the Hempstead train, I heard an announcement “ALL EASTBOUND TRAINS WILL LEAVE FROM TRACKS 4 AND 5”. “DO NOT DESCEND FROM THE WALKWAY TO THE PLATFORM UNTIL YOUR TRAIN IS CALLED.”

This was IMMEDIATELY followed by “TRAIN TO BABYLON LEAVING ON TRACK 6.” Of course, everyone believed the first message, ignored the second one, and had to go racing back up and across and then down because of the third. What a freak show. I had the bad luck to be in a car with a baby who was cranky, but worse, a woman sitting behind me who kept yawning loudly and humming some type of spiritual just loud enough to be annoying. And a loudmouth “business” man who must have called everyone he knew to tell them of his plight. Over and over and over.

I asked the booth guy “ Hempstead ?” He said “NEXT on track 5” Of course the neck train on 5 was to Ronkonkoma . I went back and said “ Hempstead ???” He said “NEXT on track 5. Oh. After the Ronkonkoma train.”

Oh how don't miss the LIRR!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Mmmmmta!

One morning a while back Beth and I were waiting for the N train to scurry us off to work. As luck would have it the N train was late. Whenever I try to get to work early a late train is always something I can count on. So as we're waiting I decided that I want to start referring to the MTA as the mmmmmmmmmmmmta! So far people like it!
This weekend there were no N/W trains going towards the city stopping at the my stop and a few others. I had to take the train heading towards Ditmars 2 stops to the Astoria Blvd stop and then catch a train to the city. Sounds simple.....right??? Certainly not!

The wait was long. The platform was crowed. People were angry. I had the joy of standing near some hipster that was far from being happy. He was on the phone and kept yelling that "we're not chaging our plans just because of a 20 minute delay!" and then "No, I'm not angry I just have spite." Let me tell you he was a joy.

The train finally showed up and we all ran on. We went the 2 stops and everyone ran off again. I was meeting Julia so I had to wait for her. The train to the city came within a minute which I thought was nice. But we missed it and had to wait some more. A trip that normally takes me 30 minutes on a bad day took almost an hour. But what can you do????? Well, look for track work is one thing and I didn't see any. At least it was only for this weekend!

The LIRR strikes again!


It's been a while and I apologize for this long lapse. And I can't promise it wont happen ;) This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of taking the LIRR home for a doctor's appointment. I was waiting patiently for the track to the 6:39 train to be announced. I hung out in the usual spot, near track 16 but something told me I would not be boarding on track 16. And....I was right!!! Soon after I arrived in Penn I heard the announcement no commuter wants to hear:

"Due to problems in one of the tunnels there are 5-10 minute delays. Please do not descend to track level until your track has been posted."

Dear god!!!!! i rarely take the LIRR these days and the past 2 times I've experience delays. Finally our track was posted....guess which one! Go on, I dare you! It was none other than deadly track 17! Go figure.
The massive crowd ran down to the track and then waited.....waited....waited....and finally the train arrived. At this point everyone's face had melted off from the intense heat but luckily the train was cool.
The ride itself wasn't bad and I was able to make a great dent in my new book. If there hadn't been delays it would've been a great train ride. Sadly, there are no great train rides when it comes to the LIRR.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Transit Museum Time

The transit museum is a place filled with interesting facts and well as more fun than you can ever imagine having in a museum!
Check me out playing a game of peekaboo on one of the older trains in the collection. I believe this is the train where our fantastic tour guide turned the fans on.

Here I am "swiping" my Metro Card. The museum has all the different styles of turnstyles starting with the very first one. When you arrived in the station you would purchase a ticket from one booth and then walk to the entrance. Here the passenger would put their ticket into a box and another transit worker would let them pass through to the subway. (I'm pretty sure that's how it went). The first time I tried going through this turnstyle was pretty painful. Unlike most of the display this particular one did not let you pass through. OW!

The car Julia has the pleasure of sitting in is in fact the oldest in the collection. Again, notice the straw seats. Both the back and bottom were straw and comfortable, but only for women. This was the train with the very low seats. Most men opted to stand because their knees would be in their faces when they sat. Notice that Julia does not have any problems sitting in the seat....go shorty!

To your right you'll notice the constant grin on my face as I'm holding on to a more "modern" train. I believe this train was from the 50s, but don't quote me. I took too long getting my photos developed and have forgotten some facts :(
The most comical aspect of all the trains were the ads. They're hysterical!!! They make no sense, have amazing illustrations and just plain ridiculous. They're much better than the ads we have today about TV shows and viagra.

Friday, June 08, 2007

What you've been waiting for....

Finally! Julia has posted her photos for me to show everyone. Over the next serveral days I will reveal the beauty that is the transit museum. I will be getting my own photos back from the lab next week. As it is late, 1am, and I have to be at work soon I'm only posting this one photo for now. And remember if the ride sucks put your feet on the seat! (Notice the straw about a luxury ride!)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"I have a wad of $100s"

In a total brain fart moment I completly forgot to tell the tale of my recent Metro North ride. On Saturday my dear friend Kim and I took the 2:23 to Fordham. We almost didn't make it. Apparently the workers in Grand Central drive around on yellow work type vehicles. Within in 5 minutes we were almost run over twice. No joke. Had I not jumped back the first time I swear I would've lost a toe.

We finally made it to our train, with all our toes. One of the perks about taking Metro North is that the train is always on the track and waiting. Even better....the doors are open! Get out! They actually let you wait in the train. Kim and I made our way to find seats, it wasn't hard the train was empty. It was a new train like the ones the LIRR has. The only difference is that the seats looked like they had just been slicked down in oil. Not gonna lie, it was gross. They didn't feel oily they just looked nasty.

As we were waiting to pull out of the station an announcement was made:

"I just found a wad of $100 bills. Please find the conductor to claim it."

After Kim and I made numerous jokes that it was our money another announcement was made.

"I'm sorry, I lied. It's just one $100 bill. The rest of the wad is made up of $50s."

I doubt any of this was true. Just a conductor trying to be funny and probably wanting to see if anyone would step up and try to claim the fictional money.

The ride itself wasn't bad at all. But going back on Sunday the wait was a pain. Like the LIRR it pulled into the station about 5 minutes late. This is unusual for the very punctual Metro North. The highlight of it being late was having to "walk the plank" to get on the train. There was actual track work going on and long ramps were built out on to the tracks. Once it was safe we walked single file on these ramps to board the train. Then we waited another 5 minutes before moving. It was frustrating, mainly because I was sure the train would be on time. I just wanted to get home and rest! I was exhausted from the weekend.

Another perk....round trip it cost me $6! Gotta love city zones!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Be patient!

I know, I know I'm awful. I still haven't posted any glorious photos from the transit museum. That's only because Julia hasn't sent me her digital shots yet and I still need to finsh my role of film...egads! Film! Give me some more time and I'll see what I can do. In the mean time enjoy this lovely photo of me at Jubilee! Yes, even the LIRR haunts me at my college reunions!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's been a while, but worth the wait!

Friends hello! I know, I know I've been slacking with my commuting blog. I can't help it. Work got in the way. But luckily I commute by way of the subway and am getting home around the time my late night train would be leaving Penn Station!

During my brief hiatus I discovered one of the most amazing places on earth. The Transit Museum! I always imagined it would hold a special place in my heart once I made the journey but nothing could've prepared me for today. It was magical.

Subway facts:

Old turnstyles

Sitting in old subway cars

Discovering that seats once had a lovely straw cushion

Learing about the Bluebirds

And so much more. Over the next few days I will be posting amazing photos and facts. Julia's photos will be posted first because as many of you know I have yet to enter the digital world and will need to get my film developed. I will leave you with one interesting fact:

In the original subway cars the seats were lower to the ground because people were much shorter back then. It became customary for the men to give women their seats. Some may think out of chivalry, which in many cases I'm sure it was, but it was because it was easier for men to stand because the seats were so low.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's a sticky situation

Earlier today my Dad emailed me this fabulous photo. Oh, how I miss the Old LIRR trains.
They have far more character than the newer ones. With one quick glance you know by the the wear and tear that millions have had a the pleasure of being a passenger.
To me the duct tape wall says everything you need to know about the LIRR. A fast and easy fix. It wont last very long but for the time being it will do. Soon the tape will begin to disintegrate (thank you Trace!) and it will get sticky. Bags, pants, people will begin getting stuck. Mayhem will ensue. Suddenly the LIRR is not a friendly place.....but was it ever? Eventually the duct tape will fall off and the open gash it once covered will be exposed. Bringing the true nature of the LIRR into daylight. Once again the commuters know what they're in for, at least on the old trains. Not like the promising new trains with their modern style. Such a sly little fox the LIRR is.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Summer is on its way!

This weekend I'm heading off to one of the most relaxing, fun, and best places on earth....the manse! It's a short ride to what is nothing but fun and nature. I'm very excited to get away from the city and the trains. I'm off to hike and have a great time. I'm sure we'll hit traffic on the way up. A different kind of commuting problem I know nothing about. But I have heard it can be a bitch.

My thought, at least you're in your own car and can play your music loud to help cope with going no where. I also think you have a better sense of control over your commute. Granted you don't have the power to clear up an accident or remove a few cars that are in front of you. But you have a better sense of what's going on, at least as far as you can see. When you're on a train how often can you see the train you're waiting to cross in front of you? Never. The fact that you have more power over how fast you can commute makes me a bit jealous. We all know the LIRR crawls along, I'm sure some times with good reason. When you're in a car it's different. I'm sure I'll get some heat from car commuters and I'll tell them ride the LIRR for a week and then talk to me. Hope the weekend is a good one for everyone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Behold the city at night

I know, I know another London picture. You're thinking....where's the commuting talk!? Where are the train stories!? Has the blog gone the way of the LIRR, downhill??

NO! It has not. I'm just merely sharing a great view of the fabulous city of London at night. This shot was taken from the ever popular London Eye.

To get to the London Eye Julia and I took one of the fancy buses that occupy the streets of the city. It was not a double decker bus, how I love those! Just a regular old bus. But clean and comfortable. I didn't get an icky feeling after getting off at my stop. I know the Tube is the major means of transportation for the city but I have to admit I really enjoyed the bus. It was faster than I had expected. And transferring was easy as pie! Traveling through the city by bus certainly made my trip all the more better. I recommend it, but also don't forget the Tube. It's a must see least to me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I just like this photo

So pretty!

Standing room only

This morning I went in to work earlier than usual. I wanted to get a head start so I left about 30 minutes earlier. Let me tell you what a difference 30 minutes makes!

I got to the top of the stairs and thought what the hell are all these people doing here!?? I figured I was leaving at a somewhat off time, 9am. Most people are either at work already or get in closer to 10. Apparently there's another world that starts around 9:30.

Anywho, I made my way through the crowd and snagged a prime spot. Right in front and close to where the doors of the train would be. I knew I wasn't going to get a seat but I wanted to try and get a good standing position. I was lucky. I managed to get the last spot for one of the center poles. This is key for when the train rounds the sharp curve going into Queens Boro Plaza. This morning's conductor was kind and took it easy. He didn't fling us around the train and I didn't have to use every muscle in my body to keep from falling. I like him, he's my favorite conductor.

I eventually made it to work without any problems. Although I have to admit the worst thing about being on a crowded train is not people pushing you but other people's breath touching you. I was standing next to one girl that was a heavy breather. It kept hitting my arm, grossing me out, and there was nothing I could do. Yetch!

p.s. that beautiful rabbit cake is one that I made for Easter. Admire it....and it was delicious!

Monday, April 23, 2007

An apology??

This past January Penn Station shut down during rush hour. The close was so disruptive to the evening commute that I heard announcements in the subway system instructing commuters to go directly to Jamaica or to Flatbush for service.

At this time my brother, Jamie, was unforunate to be on a train that was delayed by almost 5 and half hours. (If you click on the January archives you can read more about his ordeal)

Days after the incident my cousin Chrissy found an apology on her seat. She was stunned. When has the LIRR ever apologized for a communication break down? Between the two of us neither could remember a time when the LIRR actually took fault for their actions, not to mention in such a public manner. In true LIRR fashion Chrissy finally sent me the rare apology. While I believe it is a nice gesture I hope that the LIRR never has to send another apology like this. I hope for all those who commute on a regular basis using the LIRR do not get stuck on a train for hours on end. I've been there, as have many LIRR riders, and it's awful. Fingers crossed as we approach summer that the heat doesn't cause any major disasters.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A night at the track

A short while ago a few of us ventured to Tracks for some fine dining and coverstation. Crab cakes were devoured and portobello burgers were savored. But there was a suprise guest...RUE! Otherwise known as Blanche from the Golden Girls. I was lucky enough to have been given a copy of her new and exciting novel earlier that day.

Together we read thrilling passages about her days in the business and learned a new phrase for the night: Slutpuppy. Sophia, that spunky little Sicilian, would call Blanche this sweet name. Eventually Slutpuppy evolved into Slutcheeks. Soon after this transformation we managed to clear out the tables near by. One lone woman eating nachos and sipping wine laughed at the entertaing tales of Rue's magical life in the biz. But Rue's life wasn't all Southern picnics and debutant balls she had her share of hard times, especially with the Italian (not Sophia but 1 of her 5 hubbies).

Rue aside this was one of my better nights at Tracks. Although, Gisel refused to listen to any of my suggestions and her mouth watered as soon as the crab cakes were placed on the table. Steph and I raved as we dug in.
As I always say anyone who wants the best crab cake in town head over to Penn Station and give me a call! Not to mention the Track fries are out of this world!

The LIRR Cracks Down on Ticket Theft!

The other day my Dad was at the Flastbush station waiting for his train when he noticed the ticket booths were slightly different than those at any other station. They were locked and chained in. No one, not even an expert thief, can break into these machines and run off with the cash.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Those Brits have got us beat! They have a fancy little Oyster card while we're living in the dark ages with our Metro Card. There card is a beautiful shade of blue that can withstand sitting in your back pocket all day and not breaking. It's stregnth is only matched by it's usability. So quick! No swiping just a tap and off you go!

The only downside to this beauty is that you have to tap it again before leaving the Tube. I'm sure had been in London for more than a few days I would've adjusted better. I felt panicked that I wouldn't be able to find my Oyster card in my bag. I sometimes have a habit of tossing my Metro Card it to the giant black hole of a bag I carry. Towards the end I caught on and was traveling not only in style but with speed I never dreamed of.

Another perk to the Oyster card is the cute little case you receive when purchasing your card. It's most excellent! I know the MTA would never hand such a luxury out. It would probably pain them too much to give us something so nice. I will forever cherish my Oyster card case and eventually my Metro Card will find its way into it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back on Track.....Unfortunately

Last night I had the unexpected pleasure of taking the 6:39 back to Long Island. This was one of my regular trains back in the day so I thought I knew what to expect. Unfortunately one of the tunnels was still flooded from Sunday's monsoon so there were 15-20 minute delays. This would've been better had the crowd not been so rowdy.

As I boarded the train two men cut me off and I almost fell down. Then once we're all inside the train the second man started screaming at the first man. Apparently the first man's umbrella got caught on the second man. In a fit of rage the second man got it off his jacket, screamed again, and then threw it to the ground. I quickly darted to one of the few remaining seats so I'm not sure if the first man ever got his umbrella back. I have a feeling he didn't, mainly because he would'be been trampled had he turned back and bent down.

After I was comfortable in my seat I turned on my Ipod and started reading, The Alienest....I recommend it. We sat for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes....finally we pulled out of the station. Once we were out of the tunnel we sat for another 5 minutes. Then my Ipod started acting funny. It stopped mid song for no reason.

Crap! I thought. I can't handle a delayed train ride home without my Ipod! I need to be fully entertained at all times.

I managed to restore it for another 2 songs but then the sad face appeared. I quickly texted Erin who called me back with the bad news. So on top of a long and boring train ride home I had to spend 2 hours last night restoring my precious Ipod. It better not stall out on my again.

Even though my Ipod was busted I was not without music for too long. The man sitting next to me was listening to music so loud that I was able to hear it. It wasn't my type of music, show tunes, but I'll take it!

Eventually I made it home a little more than a half hour late. I was tired, hungry, disgruntled, and ready to move my legs. It was one of the longest train rides I've ever had. Luckily my phone didn't die too because I was able to text Erin and my dear sister about the wretched train ride.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What a system!

I have to say those Brits have things down pat! The tube is amazing. Clean, on time, there is even sinage to tell you when the next train will be pulling into the station. What surprised me other than the greatness of it was that it's not entirely underground. There were many stations that were out in the open. I was not expecting this but it was a nice surprise.
I did have some problems with the Tube though. I thought they were very small, narrow and short. But I could deal with it because they were so clean. Not to mention the seats were cushioned and covered in fabric. Such a luxury would never survive here. Beastly New Yorkers would tear through the cushioning and certainly stain the pretty fabric in no time. I do love the Tube!

I'm back!

I've been gone for so long and I'm sorry! London was a blast and I'll be writing about my trip and how wonderful their transportation system above and below ground is. My first night there Julia and I explored far and wide trying to find special Picnic Bars for my sister-in-law Laurie. While we proved unsuccessul with that mission I was able to find a Tracker bar. I thought why not, anything named after the rail can't be bad......Sadly the Tracker wasn't as good as I had hoped. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't buy it again. I did discover the Double Decker though...DELIC! I'll have a photo for that amazing candy bar one day until then feast your eyes on the Tracker!

Monday, March 19, 2007

And I'm Off!

Tomorrow I leave for London! It's my first time ever out of the country and I'm very excited. What's even more exciting I'll finally get to test out the Tube. So many have told me wonderous tales of this fast moving subway that I can hardly believe them to be true! There are digital signs that tell you when the next train is approaching....and even better yet people are nice! This I must see first hand in order to believe! So tomorrow I'll be thinking of everyone taking the MTA while I'm on the fancy Underground! And don't worry there will be pictures!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Distant Memories Rushing Back to Haunt Me

This past Thursday was the first time I rode the LIRR in over 3 months. It could've been worse but with my commuter knowledge and skillful tricks I had a decent commute.

The first thing I did right was to take the first peak train of the evening rush. I took the 4:32 to Stewart Manor. I took this because it left early enough for me to make it to my doctor's appointment for my gimpy ankle (I chipped the bone in 2 places!) and because I didn't have to change at Jamaica. All went well on this commute. It was quiet and there was barely anyone on the train.

Going back in I took the 9:12 to Woodside. This was a little more lively. Most of the passengers were kids singing the entire time. But they were also inquisitve.

Kid 1 - "Hey, can you drive this train?"

Young Conductor (who I believe I saw him his first week of work when he got tips from a veteran conductor who told him not to take shit from anyone because his job is always on the line) - "I know how to drive it to the next station if something were to happen to the engineer."

Kid 2 - "What's the difference?"

Young Conductor (wearing a ring no man should wear) - "We're trained differently. He has an engineer's license and I don't. He can do things I can't and I can do things he can't. But we get paid the same."

The kids had enough and the yound conductor went on his way. He punched my ticket and told me to change at Jamaica. What a pro!

Switching at Woodside is always a breeze, if the 7 train is running, and it was. The subways were running perfectly and I didn't have to wait too long. The entire way back took about an hour, as if I were still commuting to work. After this recent trip I still don't miss the LIRR.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tracks....Love that Place!

Tonight I dined at Tracks. The portobello burger was superb as always. The service fantastic and the atmosphere everything you could want. It was your typical night at Tracks until I went to use the restroom.

As I was wating for an open stall a bellow came from the one right in front of me.


I stiffled my laughter.


Trying not to burst out and fall to the floor.

The door swings open and the crazy lady busts out declaring the stalls are too small.

"God, it's like I'm Yukon Cornelius with this giant coat on!"

Then as I walked into the stall she yelled out - "Don't touch the seat!" Lady, I never thought of touching it.

I then heard her complain some more and it sounded like she had just knocked over another girl. Then as I was washing my hands her phone rang. She pulled it out of her giant jacket muttering "3 minutes exactly!" "What? You time me!?? What's wrong with you?" She finally moved out of the bathroom and proceed to yell at the person on the other end of the for the next 5 minutes smack in the middle of the dining area. Needless to say it was nice to be back in Penn amongst the crazies for a bit.

Britney Strikes Again

Readers since I last posted I learned I will be a limper for longer than I thought. It turns out my ghastly fall caused 2 chips in my ankle bone. Yes! Chips! And please don't ask me where those bits of bone went because I don't know and don't want to know.

As I've been hobbling to work this week I've been leaving a little later so I can get a seat in the morning. That failed today. I was forced to stand and next to what appeared to be a normal middle aged man. About 10 minutes into my commute I started hearing the distinct sound of Britney Spear's "Toxic" coming from somewhere. I realized it was from the fairly normal looking man to my right! It was blaring through his headphones and he was bopping his head to the beat. It took all I had to not start laughing like a crazy person!

Sadly, he had one over on me. For the next 4 hours "Toxic" was running through my head at full speed. I thought I was going to lose my mind! Thankfully I heard another song that forced "Toxic" out of my mind forever. Funny to have a song with barely any words torturing me all morning.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Limper has competition!

I discovered something almost worse than a limper the other morning. The zig zagger. I was trying to walk up the steps to the subway platform and was in a rush since the train was pulling into the station. The man ahead of me was the only thing between me and catching my train.

No one was in front him but he found it necessary to walk smack in the middle of the stairs. As I tried to go left he went left. I dashed to the right, he did the same. There was no way I was getting around him. I lost hope of catching my train and prepared myself for the wait. But I got lucky and train was stopped longer than usual and I finally got past the man once we both reached the platform.

The zag zagger is a rare find but when you come across them you want to bop them in the head. There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to move ahead with only one person in your way. I've often encountered them on sidewalks which is slightly more mangeable. But the stairs! The stairs are hell!