Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I am officially a commuter!

I know I have technically been commuting since we moved out to the wine country 7 months ago but at first I had TheBoy so we could take the carpool lane which made the trip shorter (and I had someone to talk to) and, as I’ve complained about before, for the last 2 months or so I’ve been driving it solo. There is nothing like sitting in traffic for 3-4 hours each day to make you want to drive your car off a cliff. I’m just saying is all.

But today? Today I took public transportation! I’ve been wanting too for quite some time actually. It has the potential to save me $200 in gas alone in my car each month (more if the gas prices keep going up) and it’s better for the environment and so on. But I haven’t tried it until today. And other than one teeny tiny little snafu I think I did pretty well!

So, this is where all you guys need to take a second and remind yourself that I am a normal sane woman on most days. Got it? Good.

The main reason I have not tried public transit before now is… I am afraid of the germs. There I said it. I don’t like sitting next to strangers. Particularly sniffling, bathing optional strangers which is what I had pictured when I thought of riding the train or bus. Also, for some strange reason someone ALWAYS sits next to me. There can be a handful of empty seats and someone will pass those up and sit next to me. I don’t know if it is because I am small and chances are good they’ll end up sitting next to someone anyway but… Who knows? But with a guaranteed seat-mate I am guaranteed to be exposed to germs.

Anywho, this morning I was determined to try it. I got up, got all ready and was out the door by 5:40. I parked at the train station and made a mental note of my parking stall number so I could pay for it in the station. I walked along in the dark, swiped my ticket and went inside to pay for the parking and… forgot my stupid parking stall number! Tomorrow morning I will write it down. I was pretty sure it was either 2865 or 2685 so I took a stab in the dark and chose one. I guess we’ll see tonight if I gambled correctly!

The train ride went smoothly, I was one of the first people on the train and, of course, a woman came in just as the doors were closing at sat next to me. But she didn’t smell bad and wasn’t coughing like the guy in front of us so all in all I was content. I switched trains with no problem, the first train arriving at the same time as the second train so I was able to walk right across the platform and board my next train, where shockingly no one sat next to me. I got off at my designated stop and followed the signs for the bus loading.

Except… where I got off? There were like 40 different bus stops. So I walked along looking for the one I needed and I couldn’t find it! I did a second walk by just to be sure and then all of a sudden had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I had gotten off at the wrong stop! A woman from my office lives next to the station I was at and we had been talking about her picking me up at the train so we could carpool in to work from there. However, that was not the plan today. Today I needed to get off one station earlier so I could catch a connecting bus. Sheepishly I turned and headed back to the station, scanned my card and got on the next train heading that direction.

I chose to stand by the door for this trip since I was only going one stop and I was quickly back out in the bus loading zone but this time in the correct spot. I had no trouble finding my bus stop, even though the station is doing some serious remodeling/construction. I checked my schedule to see when the next bus would come since I had missed the bus I originally meant to take due to my detour. Ahem. These buses only come every half hour so I was afraid I had a long wait, in the freezing wind, ahead of me. Gladly I did not. I paid my fare and chose a seat close to the front where, of course, someone sat next to me (even though there were probably a dozen empty seats behind me – why? WHY do people do this?) and made it relatively quickly in to downtown and to work.

So my first experience with public transit, while not perfect, was certainly not terrible either. Even with my mistake of getting off at the wrong station (and a side trip to the first floor ladies room right away to wash my hands - germs!) I made it to my desk about 20–45 minutes earlier than I EVER get here driving. AND I got to listen to my iPod the whole way in. AND it is saving me gas and miles on my car. AND I’m helping the environment! Global warming is bad m’kay?

So yay me!


Goat said...

Good for you Tiff! I'm glad that your alternate means of getting to work doesn't sound that difficult. For as much tree hugging as California does I have always been surprised at how unfriendly mass transit has been outside of places like SF. I hope you are able to take advantage of this as much as possible, not only for the $$$ savings but also to reduce stress, I know when I get stuck in traffic I usually expand my vocabulary in not so good ways...and as a Sailor, well that's saying something!! :)

As for people always sitting next to you...think about it this way, if you know you're going to most likely be stuck sitting next to someone and you have a choice, wouldn't you take a seat next to someone that smells good, is cute, isn't overflowing into the next seat, will most likely acknowledges your presence with a quick smile or some other type of greeting.....etc... then a stinky, fat, sneezing, coughing, grumpy looking old man?

Just carry some hand sanitizer for discreet use and wash your hands when possible - you'll be fine! :)

Michele said...

Yay for public transit! Maybe you could carry hand wipes like monk!

Liz said...

I can't help but laugh. Really... you and I aren't allowed in the car b/c we miss exits while driving. So this really is par for the course.

Anonymous said...

woohoo!!! i'm so proud of you girlie. way to go. :)