Tuesday, February 24

Track number guessing games

While some people are creatures of habit, happy only when everything is predictable and routine, I’m not among their ranks.  Variety and spontaneity are what I prefer.  Most of the time, that is.  When it comes to Penn Station track assignments, any change to the usual routine ruffles my feathers, so to speak.  Not to mention the feathers of several thousand other commuters.  When you’re dealing with cattle trains, track changes are to no one’s benefit.  Nothing was out of ordinary in the morning, with the shuttle being on time at Medford.  Quite a change from yesterday’s extreme lateness.  One less-welcome change was that the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue was an M-7 consist rather than the usual M-3.  That meant no single seats, of course, and the microscopic M-7 seats also increase one’s chances of being squashed by an elephantine SCA.  I was fairly lucky, however, with the seat next to me being empty until Bethpage.  Its occupant at that station was one of the students who commutes to a Catholic high school in Mineola.  He was larger than most teens, quite possibly a football player, though not so large as to crush me or anything.  I also noted with some amusement that his body composition, or what I could tell of it from the way his side was pressed against me, was distinctly firmer and more muscular than would have been the case with an SCA of the same size.  Most SCA’s who are anything in excess of normal weight – even those just slightly pudgy – have a soft, jellylike composition, the results of being physically inert for years.  News flash: playing cartball does not make one hardbodied.  In any event, the young man got off at Mineola as expected, and a woman took his place until Jamaica.  She didn’t infringe on my space at all, and other than the fact that she was Asian and maybe 30ish I have hardly any recollection of her.  The train got into Brooklyn on time, and I waited no more than a minute or two for a 5 train to Fulton.  The 5 was hugely crowded, to the point that just getting to the doorway at Fulton required a lot of pushing and shoving.  I’m not sure what accounted for the train’s crowding, as the lack of any unusual crowding on the platform at Atlantic made it unlikely that there had been any significant service delays.  One thing that didn’t help was a large number of people boarding at Bowling Green, most of whom probably had just arrived on the nearby Staten Island ferry.

I had a much less crowded trip on a 3 from Fulton to Penn after work.  No seats, but no sardine-like squeezing either.  When I got to Penn, the station PA was annoucing that there were track changes being made, and that passengers should not descend to platform level until their trains were announced.  Now, I figured that as not all track assignments would be changed, that almost never happens, it would be okay to go to Track 19 and wait in one of the cows-at-the-slaughterhouse chute half-moons for the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  And so I was waiting, along with many other people, when the announcement board showed that the 5:46 to Huntington would be using Track 19.  That sparked a mass exodus to the stairways, not to mention quite a bit of moaning and groaning, as everybody had to wait for the 5:41 to be announced.  By looking at the monitoring screens, and seeing what tracks were in use, I figured that the 5:41 was most likely to use Track 21.  I therefore waited toward the north end of the West End Concourse, that being closest to the Track 21 stairways, hoping to avoid as much as possible the mad rush that would ensue when the PA finally got around to announcing the 5:41.  Indeed the train was on Track 21, so my guesswork paid off.  I was able to get a seat on what was otherwise a cattle train, an aisle seat next to a 50ish woman.  She talked a lot on her phone all throughout the ride, but that’s the benefit of an iPod, right?  Despite the track change we got underway on time and made it to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle right on schedule.

Gym: Oh drat.  Due to various things I was unable to go tonight.  This created a bit of a squeeze, as I have to run four more miles by Thursday to meet my weekly 6-mile quota.  True, four miles divided between Wednesday and Thursday should be no trouble, the danger is that a major LIRR catastrophe (“Due to a fatal pedestrian accident, all service on the Ronkonkoma line is suspended …”) could prevent me from getting to the gym one night, and put my quota at risk.  Doing four miles in one night would be tough.

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Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

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