Why did you stay at work until 7?
Why didn’t you get to work until 10?
Both of these questions have the same answer: a commute from Hell.
Ironically, I was trying to get to work early today.
Let’s start with the morning. I’m dragging my sleepy self out of bed and trying to get washed up in 10 minutes so I can leave my house and catch the train. I like taking the train because I can really relax; whether I sleep or read, the last stop is in DC so I don’t have to worry about moving until the train stops for good.
The first hitch in my commute happens when my nose starts bleeding. Fun fact: I get a lot of nosebleeds. You may remember me complaining about them during my trip to Harbin. I also get them almost daily during allergy season. I usually get them in the morning shortly after waking up. This is inconvenient when I am trying to be on time for work. (I have already been a little late twice because of ill-timed nosebleeds.
Well, it’s a good thing I’m already bent over the sink washing up when my nose starts bleeding, I guess. Unfortunately, this is a big one and not a minor one that goes away quickly. I’m in the bathroom for about 15 minutes, including my crazy-fast re-washing of the face and attempts to style my hair into a sock bun. (It wasn’t very successful but it was much less of a failure than those of the past!)
Okay, well, I think the blood is off my face and hands and sink, my hair is up, I have my things and I’m out the door. In the car and, of course, with great flooding comes great amounts of traffic. What ordinarily is a 30-40 minute drive to the metro station — since I can no longer try for the train — wound up taking over an hour. UGH. Ugh ugh ugh. I call my coworker and ask her to put a sticky note on my desk and to tell my manager that I will be running a few minutes late.
Finally, I make it to the metro station and board the train. I thought I could relax.
Obviously, since my 3 hour total commute has 2 hours unaccounted for, this is not true.
There are many many stops and a transfer before I can start walking to work. My train passed ONE stop before it was stopped in-between two stations. The conductor comes on the speakers telling us that the train is not receiving signals so he has to get off the train to try to fix it. We end up sitting between these two stations (aka we were trapped underground in our train) for over 30 minutes. Just sitting there. At the very beginning of my journey. I’m realizing that the message I asked my coworker to pass to my manager was going to be quite wrong. I was going to be way more than just a few minutes late.
After over half an hour, we finally get moving yay! We reach the second stop on the path into DC.
There, we are dumped off to wait on the platform for another half hour. It would seem the train ahead of us is also not receiving signals and is stopped on the tracks. We now have to wait for that one to get fixed before we can move forward again. Eventually, they let us back onto the train and the rest of the trip goes relatively slowly.
Where’s the last hour? you’re asking.
The metro trip + walking to work takes an hour. Yes, even after overcoming all these frustrating delays, I still had a looooong commute to go. And I stayed late to make up for lost time.
But you know what? My anxiety management has improved over the past 2 years. Even a year ago, I would have been panicking throughout each delay. Panicking through my nosebleed. Panicking while stuck in traffic. Panicking while trapped underground on the subway. Panicking during the “smooth” part of my commute knowing I’d be over an hour late for work.
And you know what, when I got to work, I forced myself to find the bright side. This wasn’t the worst commute I could’ve had. A lot of things didn’t happen that could have!
- My car battery wasn’t dead. (It was dead before work yesterday, so I’m just glad my car started today.)
- I didn’t get into a car accident.
- I didn’t get pulled over by a mean cop.
- My train’s lights and air conditioning remained on (while I was trapped underground).
- I didn’t have to deal with invasions of my personal space.
- I didn’t get creepily hit on by anyone.
- I didn’t slip and fall.
- I wasn’t mugged.
- I wasn’t splashed by a passing car or truck.
- I didn’t get hit by any cars or trucks.
- I didn’t lose or forget any of my belongings throughout this entire ordeal.
If all of these things happened, plus my above struggles, then that would most definitely be in the running for worst commute ever.
But you know, all things considered… it could’ve been worse?
I am truly amazed by how ill-prepared Washington D.C. is for stormy weather. DC was built on a marsh! (Basically.) And yet, if we get more than an inch of rain, there are guaranteed delays on the metro. In a city built on wetlands. UGH WHY.
My coworker, who takes the same train (although usually on a different schedule from me) had a similarly difficult ordeal trying to get home on the train this evening. She was trying to take the 6:40 train home. The trains before were all delayed, and so was this one. She was originally trying to take the 6:23, so the passengers for that train were just corralled onto the 6:40. They were allowed to board, and were stopping and going for over an hour before even reaching the first stop. Apparently, there was some kind of police incident in the city of the first stop. And they kept checking the brakes of the train. (Not very comforting…) Also, apparently someone had been hit by a train earlier in the day, a tragedy that had the unfortunate ripple effect of creating even more severe delays.
So maybe I lucked out by not making the train this morning.
Tell me about one of your most frustrating commutes? We can commiserate together.