We make holes in teeth!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Train Eureka

It should come as no surprise that commuting to work is often part of my writing here. It is, after all, something I do a lot of every day. If it didn't occupy some of my thoughts there would probably be something wrong with me, other than what might already be wrong with me. Anyway, I choose to think that I read and listen to music and sometimes play sudoku a lot every day. In between I ride the train, subway, and.

Recently I started going home a different way than I go to work. In the morning I take the train to midtown, then subway to Brooklyn. Going home, I take the subway downtown, then get on the path to Hoboken and catch the train to Millington. I started leaving work 5 minutes earlier and getting home 30 minutes earlier than I normally would. The theoretical downside is that the Hoboken train is smaller than the midtown train (3 cars versus 10 cars) and all the old & outdated cars are sent to Hoboken, theoretically to die.

Anyway, I find the Hoboken line much more satisfying than the main line. Well, it's the same line, but you know what I mean. I like the 3 old cars better than the 10 new ones with the locomotive. The Hoboken line is all electric, by the way. No locomotive, just the standard old-time overhead wires to push us along. Or pull us along. Whatever.

Anyway, the old cars are more comfortable, because the seats are old and nice and soft. All the new cars have seats designed for people will perfect posture, and presumably fat asses. They're not comfortable, in my estimation. Either way, neither seat is really going to hit the spot after a long day, when all you want to do is lay on the couch and drink beer.

Another downside about the new trains is that they can go 800 miles per hour, but they never do. It should take us 20 minutes at most to go from Summit to New York. The best time you make is about 35 minutes. Today I realized why that is. There are actually 2 reasons, only 1 of which is new.

The first is that there are people making these switch changes, and people are slow, dumb, and lazy. Two trains will slowly approach a rail "merge" (sorry I'm not a train dork, I don't know the lingo). Every day we approach this merge, where we meet the main Amtrak line. And every day, we have to wait for the other trains to go. So, the question is, why do I see out the window that the other train is also going 2 mph? Everyone knows they're going to get the green light before we do. Who the fuck is asleep at the switch every goddamn day preventing them from going at their normal pace?

The second (and new) reason is that the tracks aren't made for trains to go 800 mph. They're made for the old-time plug & chug cars they send to Hoboken to die. They can get up to speed and slow down a lot faster than the big 10 car puppies. So we chug along, getting up to cruising speed relatively fast, riding on the rail that was made for these trains, while the super trains rigidly bump along at 20 mph. It should be mentioned that when the big trains do get up to high cruising speed, it's much more enjoyable. But that almost never happens.

Anyway, that's my big conclusion for the day. Now I can go get that beer I've been thinking about on the train ride home.


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