Chaos on Wednesday Morning
Okay, if you've read any of my blog posts, you know that Wednesdays are NOT my favorite day of the week. Wednesdays are the day I (physically) go into the office. (Instead of working remotely). Getting to (and from) the office in a fiscally (and environmentally) sound way, means getting a bus. Taking the bus to and from Penn Station makes me anxious. There's no reason for it; I've done it plenty of times, but...
Today, I thought I was pretty good. I got up, did some exercise (using pedals instead of walking because while the knee is MUCH better, there's still a little bit to go), got dressed and made sure that my son was up so that he could drive me to the bus stop for the 7:30 EXPRESS bus. (Yes, there is a reason why I've emphasized that...I bet you can guess why.)
Around 6:45, I go to check the NJ transit app to see what the bus status looks like. There is an express that gets to the corner at around 7 (which I took once when I had to be in early) and then the 7:30 which I usually take. There are also "regular" buses that go down to Newark, but not directly to Penn Station (one exception: the 8:12). They usually take longer because they have to deal with street traffic and more stops. For me, it also means that I have to get off at the light rail station (in Newark) and take that into Penn Station.
With all of the information above, you can probably guess where I am going with all of this. I log in to the app. I see three buses heading to Newark within my time range, but NONE of them are express. There is no 7:00 express, there is no 7:30. My anxiety kicks in and I check on the website. The website, of course, shows the same information.
Now, I'm in a quandary. What do I do? Do I have my son drive me to the bus stop and hope for the best? Do I walk to the closer bus stop and take a local? And thank God, I checked my bus ticket status yesterday because I THOUGHT I had one round trip bus ticket left on the app and I did not, so I purchased 4 more. So at least I didn't have that to worry about. (Can you imagine? I would have totally freaked out.)
I kept checking the app over and over again. (What is the definition of insanity?) No express and it was too early in the day for the 8:12 direct to Penn Station to show up, so...
At 7:05, I walk out the door. (Walking as quickly as I could with my still not completely "normal" knee.) I head around the corner (annoyed that the direct path down to the avenue has been gated, but that's a whole other story). The clock is ticking and I'm TRYING not to look at it.
By the time I get to the corner, the bus is supposed to be there in 3 minutes and I have to get across the busy street. I push the button to cross and wait. The clock kept ticking, so when I saw that the street was clear, I crossed, not waiting for the little green icon to tell me it was okay to do so.
I just crossed and got to the stop when I saw the bus coming. I pull up the ticket and get on. Since I am extra paranoid now (I am probably always a little paranoid), I ask the bus driver if he stops at the city subway (I KNOW he does.) This was also my way of letting him know that I wanted to get off there because I wasn't sure when I hit the request for stop. (Note to self, it's right after N. 3rd Street). He said something that I couldn't make out; something about 2 zones.
I sat down right in front. Did he mean that I needed a 2-zone light rail ticket? (I had a 1 zone.) Or did he mean that although I had a 3-zone bus ticket, I only needed a 2 zone one? (And then take get a 1 zone light rail ticket?) Again, being crazed (old) woman that I am, I immediately purchase a 2-zone light rail ticket on the app so that I am set.
We get to the station. (I manage to figure out the stop just seconds before we there, hitting the stop request barely in time. Would he have stopped if I hadn't done that? No one else got off, so maybe? Maybe not?) I go down the first flight of stairs. I go down the second flight of stairs. My knee isn't too happy about all of this, but the light rail is just pulling in. I activate the 2-zone light rail ticket and get on.
I managed to find a seat and am relieved that I will be at Penn Station in less than 10 minutes. Then it's off the light rail, up one flight of stairs (maybe I should have done the escalator), up another flight of stairs, into the station proper, up the escalator, down the hall into the Gateway elevated walkway, pass Gateway 1, up more stairs, pass Gateway 2 and down the hall to Dunkin Donut where I order a much needed medium (as opposed to my usual small) cappuccino and then back to Gateway 2, pass security, up to my floor and I'm ready to start my work day! And it's not even eight o'clock yet!
Questions remain. What happened to the express buses? Will there be express buses this afternoon? If so, which ones will be running (4:30? 5:00?). Or will I have to do the city subway again to a local bus? I'm thinking (based on some poking around in the NJ Transit website which does not let me easily find the information I am looking for) that if I go local, I only need a 1 zone light rail ticket (which I have) and a 2-zone bus ticket (which I don't.) Should I buy a 2-zone bus ticket as a backup? And then there is the really big question: DO I activate my light rail ticket? Every time I've ridden (not that I've ridden that much), no one has asked to see the activated ticket. Not activating is cheating, BUT I have been using a 3-zone bus ticket when I would only need a 2 zone if I go local.
So many questions...So much confusion...So much anxiety.
Lessons learned today:
- If I have to take a local, DON'T wear a heavy coat and/or sweater with turtleneck. That works fine while standing and waiting for the express, but not with all the moving around.
- Check the app at quarter to seven and if there is no express, it's time to get moving. No checking and double checking...just get going. And remember, there are two locals available (I forgot about this today), if you miss one, you can catch the other, but check the times because I don't want to have to back track.
- This was the wrong year to go for a Dry January...yes, I want a glass of wine tonight. (Honestly, I want one now, but...)
- Always be prepared and flexible. There's no need to freak out. (But I will anyway.)
Remember, it's just another day commuting to the office!