Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday on the Rails

So Friday, I got back on the rails again when I had to go to DC for a social function. The previous Friday, I had driven from NW Baltimore County to Greenbelt to catch the Metro into the city for the Capitals game, and the drive was a nightmare, so I when I realized that I had left early enough to catch the 5:03 train from BWI, I went ahead and did that.

I got there with a few minutes to spare and looked at the board to find that the 5:03 MARC train was on time. Sweet. By the time I had purchased my ticket and gotten to the right side of the platform to catch the train (about 5:02), the boards said the train was 5 minutes late. At 5:07, the announcer said the train would arrive at about 5:12. Finally at about 5:20, the train departed. No reason was given. But the frustrating thing was the idiocy of some of the people on the platforms. Usually, people stand on the platform in a horizontal line, 1 deep throughout, finding their own personal space, etc.

Well while I was waiting, a dude and his wife decided to stand literally right in front of them (I could have sneezed on them and they would have gotten a shower). When I tried to move and said "excuse me," I discovered that not only were they standing right in my path, but dude had put his big ass, oversized, there must be the body of a dead mafia guy in there bag down to my right. I took great pleasure in accidentally kicking it out of the way as I made my escape from their little trap. I think he said something about it, but I was too busy trying to find another place to stand.

The train ride there was somewhat uneventful. But when we got to Union Station and I was walking toward the station, there was a crowd of people probably 400 strong waiting to board a train. By rule, these folks are supposed to wait in the station. But instead they had all herded out to the platform area like morons and had no plans to move, even though they were blocking all the doors. This is where elbows and forearms come in handy. I made my way through, acting as the lead fullback for this old lady that was behind me with rolling luggage and needed some space to get through. Then, once through the door, there were still more people charging through the herd who apparently don't understand that when trains come into Union Station, sometimes, people exit them. One person stopped right in the middle of everyone and sighed as if our desire to, you know, get through the station minding our own business, was some kind of an afront. I wasn't in the best of moods at that point so I spoke my mind to him as I walked past. I heard one person clapping.

On the way home, I missed a train so I had to sit in the station for about an hour to get the 10:05 back north. While sitting in Sbarro eating some pizza, two dudes almost got into a fight because the one older gentlemen was paying for his food, and the other dude thought he cut in line in front of a woman who was still waiting for her food and hadn't even been ready to go to the register yet. While this dude felt like it was his business, I have no idea, but he was a real asshole about it. Maybe he was trying to hook up with the woman, who wasn't really wronged in the situation, but he felt he could play hero. The older gentlemen told him off in something that I think was Chinese and went about on his merry way. The woman ignored the dude, who was trying to be all impressive and talking to her, and then he went on about the rest of the station trying to cause trouble somewhere else.

People are punks. Be careful out there.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

So, yeah. Hi.

So, for the moment at least - it seems like MARC of the Hooligans is kinda dead - much like the trains on the MARC line themselves most of the time.

I haven't been working in a good couple months now, and I would go into all of that, but I don't want to put all that out there on the Internet for public consumption - because I would get kind of nasty. Well, not kind of. It would be nasty. Like, Philadelphia Flyers winning the Stanley Cup kind of nasty and awful.

I am, however, a Washington Capitals season ticket holder. And more than likely, I'm going to be using the MARC during the week to go to games, rather than drive all the way down to the Greenbelt Metro and then ride 10 stops into the arena. So, in the near future, I think all sorts of hilarity will ensue.

Now, the people to watch will be fewer, because I'll be going oppo of the commuters, but when the trains go the other way, I can look in the windows and laugh at them, too.

So, sit tight, we'll be back on Tuesday morning after Monday's Caps-Canucks game.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Land on Free Parking, You No Get the Pot in the Middle

Of course, you remember the old house rule in Monopoly, where there was a pot of money that grew through various means, and if you landed on Free Parking, you collected it all. For the normal folks, it was Monopoly money - for the gambling folks in college that I hung out with, it was real money. Whatever, find the parking spot, get the money.

For MARC commuters, some would want you to believe it doesn't work that way. There was an article in the Martin O'Malley Daily Telegraph .... errr .... Baltimore Sun, with MARC riders complaining how there is no parking at MARC lots, and a bit of an implication that folks living in the neighborhoods around the lots getting pissed because people are parking on their streets to get to the train station on time.

The story is here:,0,6903345.story

Now, there is a lot of fact-itude in that article. Parking is stretched at Halethorpe. But some of this problem is the fault of the very commuters who in the story are made out to be victims. Yes, by 7:20 this morning, when I got there, there weren't many spots open. But when I get there by 6:05, like usual, over half the lot is still empty (a lot that holds nearly 800 cars).

But here's the thing ... even at 6 a.m., when there are literally hundreds of spots available, people are still parking in front of people's houses on Route 1, or in the neighborhoods right around the lot, rather than parking in the lot. Apparently, the only thing I can figure is that these folks think it's easier to get out in the afternoon if they aren't in the crowded lot. Nevermind that they are taking up residence in front of someone else's house, houses which in some cases don't have garages, so the spot in front of their house is their spot, in a sense.

It's hard to blame the MARC folks if the lot is full - there aren't No Parking signs in the neighborhood, according to the Sun story. What there should be is a No Parking/Permit system, where the residents get permits to park where they want, and outsiders are kept out. This is how its done in the neighborhood around where I work, and it gets the job done.

But the MARC commuters themselves need to stop playing the victim card here, too.

First, if there's spots in the MARC lot, use them. If there's spots along US 1 on the opposite side of the houses, use them.

Second, I see people on the train every day who have been riding the train together in groups of 6-10 folks for multiple years. Surely, these folks can't all live in 10 vastly incongruent neighborhoods geographically. If parking is that much of a chore, quit fucking with the neighbors and carpool to the train station. You'd save a load of gas, have your company that you already talk to everyday for longer, and there'd be more parking spaces.

I don't condone the neighbors for going all vigilante and keying people's cars. But I also don't blame them if they called to have the invading cars towed. I don't know if it would work, since there are no signs, but it's worth a try. I see too many people using too many spots other than the ones designated (and open) to believe the woe-is-me crap presented in the article.


Meanwhile, according to CNN, The House voted 322-98 to authorize $1.7 billion over the next two years to lower fares and expand operations as more riders flock to public transit. The transit measure, which must be considered by the Senate, marks the first time federal money would be used to support local mass transit operating costs. Now there was another part of it that didn't pass with regard to oil drilling, but let's deal with the transit funding deal first.

When exactly would you expect any kind of lower fare to show up? You really think Metro is going to LOWER fares? Their employees are too busy running a brothel. And too busy riding the rails for free - so what do they care what we have to pay every day just to get to work! There's no chance of this happening here. Metro told us they needed additional funds with the last fare increase for maintenance purposes and to provide better service. Meanwhile, trains continue to be late, door problems continue to abound, smoke/fire continues to be reported on tracks, and there really doesn't seem to be anyone else who cares, because the system is having all-time high ridership days of late.

Hell, they know we all have to get to work. And they know we don't want to fill up for $50 or more every week. So, what reason, exactly, do they have to lower fares?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We're Back, and the Beatings will Continue Until You People Fall in Line.

Yeah, yeah, we've been in the basement a while. Whatever.

Dear Dude on the 5:20 Train on Monday afternoon:

What, were manners not on sale when you were growing up? You're 50-something years old, with the look of someone who plunders around the country club golf course on Saturday mornings trying to swing your putter with the 16-year-old beverage cart girl and the wife who has surely hired a pool boy behind your back ... you never learned how to chew gum? You know, Bobby Knight once said about writers ... "Everybody learned to write in third grade, most people moved on to better things." Well by third grade, everyone should know how to chew gum properly, save for that one kid that was in the corner who no one talked to because if you did he'd snap and drop about 47 bitch-slaps at you in a 40-second span - then he'd get a sticker for being an example of the human spirit.

But no, you had to sit there on the train Monday, across the aisle from me, chomping your gum away like you were some kind of rabbit downing a carrot. Heh ... downing a carrot. I wonder if that's what the kids call it these days.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that you annoyed me, and you have made the list. You've been given seat 3 in row 12 on the blog's special Train to Hell on Christmas Day - a non-stop cavalcade of everyone who has pissed me off in the last year.

Bring your gum.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Parking Woes, Part Deux

Speaking of parking wars.

So yesterday, I went to the dentist. No big deal. Had some work done, everything was fine. Now, where I work, parking isn’t exactly ideal, and it’s especially difficult to find a spot. Because I’m in the program that gets the metrochecks deal, I can’t get a spot anywhere actually within our little facility here, so street parking is necessary. And usually, if you aren’t here by 6:35 a.m., the street parking is gone. Yeah that’s right, I typed 6:35 a.m. It’s not so bad that people get here that early I guess – but then I see some of those same cars still sitting there at 5 p.m. Seriously, I know there’s important stuff done where I work, but go home! Walk your dog! Cook dinner! Argue with your family! Laugh at the neighbor!

Anyway, I figured since there was no street parking available when I got there a little after noon (actually, there was one spot, but I wasn’t talented enough to squeeze my car into the small spot); I decided to head up the street to the Metro station, park there, and ride 1 stop into work. No big deal. Save for the fact that despite the sign not being on to indicate the lot was full – the lot was full. And because the parking garages are unstaffed at the wonderful, customer-friendly Metro facilities aren’t staffed, there was no way out of said garage without paying the $4.75 to exit, even though I didn’t actually park. That was wonderful.

So now I get to fight with the Metro folks to get my $4.75 back. I don’t think the odds are very good that I’m going to win that one.

Seriously, if this shit keeps up, I’m going to be like that dude in that one movie where he goes nuts at how the world is going crazy and he just starts going all sorts of apeshit on people.

I’m not sure I’ve really ever seen someone actually go apeshit, but I bet it’s interesting.

Not that I’d find a parking place close enough or cheap enough to actually see such a thing.

Maybe I should run for President and fix all this stuff. Nah, that'll never work.

Parking Woes and Stupid Sunglasses Guy

So after about a month’s hiatus, I ventured back on to the rails to commute to work on Tuesday. I had been sick for a good part of the last month, and still am, but since I hadn’t used the rails, I had built up quite an arsenal of the metrocheck things, to the point where I could get a monthly ticket for free. Free is good, so I thought, what the hell.

What the fuck would have been more like it.

The commute itself really wasn’t all that bad I don’t guess. Save for the dude on the MARC ride home who was the type we’ve discussed here before, wearing dark sunglasses on the train when we haven’t seen the sun here in several days. If it was anymore gray outside, it would have looked like, well, I don’t know, something that looks very gray.

But anyway, he spent most of his time staring at the girl (she was maybe 23) in the seat across the aisle from us – who, while very pretty and not particularly overdressed, probably didn’t deserve to be mentally stripped by sunglasses boy. He was also one of these super annoying people who carry on way too much stuff for a commuter train. Part of his stuff went up into the little compartment above the seats, which is usually about big enough for a wallet and small raincoat. But he kept a notebook, a radio, a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, and his umbrella in his lap. Seriously, either dude had way too much lap or way too much stuff.

When the train came to my stop, this also created a problem for sunglasses dude, because he then had to move all this stuff to try and get out of the way so that I could exit. And he didn’t even bother getting up out of his seat, which A) would have made it easier for me to get out, and B) got him closer to the girl of his dreams. He was just all around an inconsiderate little bastard. But that’s pretty much normal service when it comes to public transportation, I guess.

More fun awaited when I left the BWI rail station. The trick at BWI is that they have two parking garages, and for common folk, it costs $9 a day to park. That’s kind of exorbitant but whatever. Supposedly, however, if you are a monthly ticket passenger on MARC, this fee doesn’t apply.

Well, that’s true except for me, apparently.

Because when I got to the gate and showed the dude my ticket, he said, “That won’t do you no good here.” Now, bless this guy’s heart … he’s probably never held another job in his life. He seriously looked like he’s been manning this parking lot booth for a long time. I mean, he probably watched his Colts beat the Giants in the ’58 Championship Game right from that very booth. But his rationale was that I didn’t have the special ticket that you have to get “mailed from Florida,” and that he could give me an application. Which, of course, does me no good unless I want to then turn around and spend all the money I saved by saving up the metrochecks to then send it to some clandestine place in Florida that apparently has the parking lot racket all squared away. Nevermind that I had a monthly ticket, too, I guess I didn’t have the “right kind” of monthly ticket. The dude’s last words (before I left, I didn’t kill him) were, “Yeah, there’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this whole deal.” I told him it was because the deal was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard, and I drove off.

So, now I get to fight with the folks I bought my ticket from because as far as I’m concerned, that rail ticket is useless, since I have no intention of paying $9 to park every day when I can drive to work and fight the same level of crazy people for parking places for free.

Maybe I need to start a Parking Wars blog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome to February

Well, first of all, to put to rest one vicious rumor ... I'm not dead.

I also was not on the MARC the morning of the Great Derailment at Union Station, was not pinned between train cars, did not fall beneath the tracks into the bottomless pit of derailed dreams, and I haven't broken my neck breakdancing (remember that rumor about Alfonso Ribiero from school?).

I also have not been signed to a 6-year, max contract by the New York Knicks and I was not traded to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard trade.

I also did not have to appear before Congress to explain my possible use of HGH and other performance-enhancing drugs. That's right, folks, I write all this shit on natural, God-given talent. Hell yeah!

But I've spent most of the month in bed.


No, don't get excited.

From the onset of Super Bowl weekend till about, I don't know, now ... I've been sick with pneumonia. Or at least that was the first guess by the doctor I saw. Another said I didn't have that, but didn't say what I have, who knows. I'm going with the pneumonia diagnosis for right now because I've never had it before, I've never been sicker, and I think the first two doctor knew a hell of a lot more about what she was talking about than the second one did.

So the product of being sick is that for the month to this point, I have commuted by rail exactly twice, and one of those was only a half-day, so there wasn't much to tell there - other than having to go to something known as Track 28 at Union Station to get my train home. I think I actually walked to Ocean City before getting to the track where the train was. It was so far out that once I got there and got on board, I was quite sure I was on the wrong train and was going to end up in Red Deer, Alberta, four days later.

There really wasn't much to tell from today's commute, either, other than to say that the 5:10 express train experiment may just be working for MARC, but it's hard to tell. The 5:20 train was still fairly crowded, and there were some people standing, but it wasn't as overpackafied as usual. It wasn't difficult to find a seat and there wasn't any one standing in the aisle today trying to sit on me or eat their dinner or whatever.

It was a little annoying that apparently the person actually driving the train was the 87-year-old grandmother of 21 from those Life Alert commercials, as the train never got above about 41 mph and we were late getting in at Halethorpe.

As a consequence, it's 6 minutes after 11 p.m., I feel like I just got home, and it's time to turn in already.

Oh well.

At least I'm not dead. Or traded.


(Well, as far as I know. I guess I could have been dealt to Grand Forks for 20 hockey pucks and a blog about missile silos to be named later).