Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Joys of Transportation

Please excuse this brief departure from our usual blog format to relay a personal story.

The 14thandyous are truly blessed to be able to live within such close proximity to our places of employment that transportation and its associated headaches rarely register as a concern with us. Unfortunately, that isn't always the Friday night showed.

I headed out of my office in Penn Quarter around 6 PM on Friday evening to head over to meet Mrs. 14thandyou at Firefly in Dupont for a date night. My plan was simple enough: catch the Red Line at Chinatown/PQ over to Dupont, and walk over from there.

My first sign that something was amiss was when I encountered cryptic yellow signs haphazardly taped to the Metro turnstiles that stated: "MAJOR DELAYS. Save yourself money and do not enter the station." I had never encountered these before--their bluntness certainly got my attention. However, the signs didn't indicate what line(s) were affected, and since three lines pass through the Chinatown station, I decided to chance it.

The "which line is it" question was soon answered as I descended the escalator into what I could only describe as sheer pandemonium. I had never seen the Metro platform so jammed with people--you couldn't even get remotely close to the platform entrance. I hastily made a decision that the Metro was not going to be an option this evening (I later heard about the massive derailment at Friendship Heights) and decided to cab it over to Dupont.

Heading across town in rush hour is never fun, but at least I wouldn't be the one driving. I hailed a cab on 6th street, and the driver proceeded to loop around over to K in order to make a right onto Mass to get around Mt. Vernon Square. Only, traffic in the two left turn lanes onto was backed up--but my driver, ever resourceful, decided to turn into the lanes anyway. Because he was unable to complete the turn, he ended up being stuck sideways across multiple lanes of traffic, and because he was stopped so close to the car in front of him, once cars started to move he was forced to back up and then move forward.

Unfortunately, my driver did not think to look behind him before he backed up--if he had, he no doubt would have seen the other cab that had stopped behind him. Since he did not, he ended up smacking into the other cab. My driver got out and proceeded to the open window of the cab he hit. Words were exchanged. I couldn't tell if damage had been done to the other cab, but I was certain that I had heard the sound of a car door getting bent by a fender.

This lasted for about a couple of minutes, at which point I had decided to bail out of the cab. Only the cab driver returned at just that moment, got in, spat out "everything fine" and then sped off around the Square, leaving the other cab behind. I had my doubts that everything truly *was* fine, but I was too busy staring wide-eyed at my driver--unfazed by the earlier incident--zipping in and out of traffic and pedestrians along Mass Ave. to ponder the thought too deeply.

Finally, I arrived at Firefly, nearly an hour after I started out. I paid the fare, but didn't tip, and caught the driver mumbling something as I stepped out of the cab. Should have caught his license number, but at that point I was simply happy to be out of the cab. Not so bad, all things considered, and it did make the Hefeweizen I ordered taste all the better.

After a couple more drinks and some snacks, we headed out to walk home--by which time it had started raining.

But of course.


Anonymous said...

No offense, but there was a MAJOR train derailment. These things happen and are an unfortunate part of life for everyone. Not limited to public transit either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know the driver's English wasn't up to par (see: "spat out 'everything fine'"). I bet if he spoke better English he would have been a better driver.

Sean Robertson said...

Should have walked. PQ to Firefly is literally only a 20 minute walk (I can probably make it in 15, but I walk damned fast). ;-)

14th & You said...

Sean, we totally agree with you re: walking. However, I just looked at a map, and it appears that the 7th and F Gallery Place Metro entrance where Mr. 14th & You started his journey is still 1.5 to 1.75 mi. from Firefly. To be sure, this is walkable; we take such distances all the time. But I couldn't make that distance in 15 minutes with a briefcase.

Anonymous 2: "Spat out" describes terse delivery, not the facility with language. The rest is a direct quotation meant to convey the full extent of the driver's apology to his rider (none).

Anonymous 1: Yes, there was a derailment, as Mr. 14th & You mentions in this post. This isn't a rant against Metro, just a story of an evening commute that didn't go so well.