Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why I am always late for the train

Breathless and wild-eyed, I stood in the middle of the intersection of two unknown streets, scanning the horizon in all directions for a taxi, a bus, a police car- anything. It was 3:42am, and my train to New York City was scheduled to leave in exactly eighteen minutes.

I was done for.

How, after years of traveling on my own and, one would assume, functioning basically independently and with some modicum of responsibility for my own fate, did I manage to always find myself in these ridiculous scenarios? Was it some weird subconscious desire to make my relatively simple life more challenging? Masochism? Or perhaps just complete and all encompassing ineptitude and lack of foresight?

I hardly had time to philosophize on the issue at this particular moment.

How had I gotten there? Please, indulge me to travel back in time for a moment, and all will be made clear to you.

After over a week in the capital, my two fabulous friends* and I were ready to try our luck in the Big Apple**. The only problem was that they wanted to take to bus, which costs only $25*** compared to the $80-200 for the train. After days of deliberation, I had actually convinced myself to set aside my visions of grandeur and take the bus with them. I was trying to see it as a sort of spy excursion behind enemy lines in order to expose the discomforts and general demeaning nature of the bus in comparison to my iron bastion of hope, the train. However, they booked their tickets separately, and by the time that I, terrible procrastinator and failure of a human that I am, tried to book, the bus was already sold out. With a thinly veiled sense of relief, I took it as a sign from the train gods and looked into train ticket prices online. Shockingly, because demand on this route is so high, the fares are up to $200 for any decent departure times. But, as I am a professional budget traveler and amazing discount sleuth, I found that trains leaving at the unholy hours of 3 and 4am cost a fraction of that price! So I booked my ticket, planned the bus route I would need to take, and took a short nap before my 2:30am wake-up and departure time.

So. Woke up. Found bus number one. Had just barely enough cash for the fare. Waited for bus number two, and convinced the driver that I was poor and pathetic enough to deserve a free ride to Union Station. All was going according to plan and in good time, until an interesting local gentleman got on the bus, sat down next to me, and asked me,

"What do you think about the Bible?"

Now, a normal human at 3am would probably ignore a strange person on the bus asking them such a question, but my uncontrollable love for talking to strangers took over all sense of reason and we launched into an enlightening and enjoyable debate covering all topics from the Bible to the evolution of humanity to nuclear warfare and space exploration to a local politician that ran for Congress as part of the "The rent is too damn high" party. Before I realized what was happening, we had passed the station and were in the middle of a foreign neighborhood far past my desired destination.

Which brings me back to where we began, at the corner of two streets at I still could not place on a map if my life were at stake. Due to some mercy in the universe, a moment later a taxi driven by a sweet Eritrean woman and with two friendly passengers already inside pulled over to pick me up, explaining that they had seen my frantic pacing and felt it was their duty as fellow humans to get me off the streets and save me from myself. They raced me to the station, which was surprisingly close, and sent me on my crazy way, running through the station, and up to the waiting train.

I was sitting in the last car, still catching my breath, when the conductor came to collect my ticket. He asked how I was and I replied,

"Fabulous now that I am here, I was so worried that I would not make it!"

To which he earnestly responded,

"I was worried too, you just barely caught us, thank goodness. The cafe is already open if you need anything at all, and welcome aboard."


*Who shall remain nameless, for their safety.
**Two things: First, how do you people manage to put up with all my ridiculous cliches? It must be awful reading this. And two, I just need to point out that this is my second visit to New York ever, the first being with one of the same aforementioned friends, celebrating my 21st birthday.
***But at what emotional cost, I ask you?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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