Friday morning I had an adventure with the L-Train. Sort of an adventure. Well, mostly it was just a pain in the ass that made me late for class. There was something wrong with the 7 train, so all of the people that normally take the 7 to get into Manhattan were taking the L. I didn’t know this, of course, until after I was already in the station and on the platform. I don’t have to take the L. I could just take the bus from Avenue B to Union Square. The L is usually a bit faster though. Sometimes I’ve stood around for 20 minutes waiting on a bus, only to see three of them show up at the same time. The L is usually more reliable. Usually. But when it fucks up, it really fucks up.
So, like I said, I swiped my card, walked through the turn-style and then down to the platform. I stopped for a moment to take in the huge crowd of people. They were packed in tight from the edge of the platform back, with barely enough space for people to squeeze through behind them. That should have been my first indication that something was wrong, but I rarely ever take the train that early in the morning. This was at 8:30 AM. I have one class per week that starts in the morning and it only meets once per week. Anyway, I took my position at the back of the crowd and waited.
About 10 minutes later, a train arrived. The doors opened and people came flooding out, trying to push through the crowd. Before they’d finished getting out, people were fighting to get in. You know how it is. The person running the train is playing the “Please stand clear of the closing doors” message before people even finish walking off the train. Before I’d even managed to take one step forward, the people boarding were fighting to hold the doors open while they got onboard. I got to the front and realized I couldn’t squeeze in, no matter how I tried, so the doors closed and the train left.
Ok. That was disappointing, but I could just get the next train right? Wrong. About 10 minutes later another train approached the station. Then it left the station, without even stopping. Damn. By this point, I was thinking I should have just taken the bus. I’d have been at Union Square by then. But I thought that by the time I got out of the subway and got to the bus stop, and rode the bus, another train would come and I’d waste even more time. Besides, I wasn’t sure I could manage to get some sort of pass and I didn’t want to pay again. I didn’t have an unlimited card. So, I just waited.
15 minutes later another train finally showed up. People streamed out of it, and then the crowd surged in. I grabbed the pole in the middle of the train, between the doors and listened to a girl next to me screaming about some asshole who threatened her. She had stepped off the train to let people out, and when she tried to get back on, someone stupid got confused and thought she didn’t have a right to get back on ahead of him. Morons.
So, I was finally underway. Maybe I wouldn’t be too late. Or so I thought.
The train pulled into the next station, 3rd Avenue, and the conductor got on the intercom and told us that the train would be bypassing Union Square and not stopping until 8th Avenue. What the fuck? So, I managed to get ONE station before having to get off the train and walk anyway.
When I got to Union Square I got in line at the ticket booth just in time to watch an old man scream at the guy for not letting him back into the train station for free after he had a problem with the L Train. He screamed “Fuck you!” and then stomped over to the turn-style and paid again to get into the station. That wasn’t very reassuring. When I got up the counter, I presented my case, and for being courteous I was let into the station without having to pay again. A small blessing.
So… to get from 1st Avenue to Union Square took me almost an hour Friday morning. Thanks to the L train. And the fun and games didn’t stop there. By the time I got to the school I was thirsty, but all I had was a 20 dollar bill and the café and cafeteria wouldn’t give me change, so I had to leave the campus again, back the way I came, to go to a convenience store to get a drink. What fun.
Luckily, when I got into the classroom, no great fuss was made about my being late. Word of the 7 and L trains’ problems had preceded me. I think from now on I’ll just take the bus, or walk, to Union Square. The L train is too much of a pain in the ass to even bother with.