Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wherein Silver Spring Is My Least Favorite Place On Earth

Today is one of those days where you really, really want a situation to be funny and you really, really can't seem to convince yourself that it is.

I'm working on another blog entry about how I got a new job (and celebrated by not getting service at multiple restaurants), but its a long story and I haven't finished yet.  So, yay, anti-climactic, new job!


This job requires me to commute by train into DC (as we are of the deliberately-one-car-family), which in turn means I get up a lot earlier than I used to.  It also means we have been experimenting with the best metro station that balances commute-time and fare cost.

Now, if you are not from this area, you might not know that the roads around here MAKE NO SENSE.  The Baltimore/DC/Northern Virginia metro area does not possess what some might like to call "civil engineering that was not designed by a monkey."

Which might explain all of those politicians wandering around...

But I digress.

At the heart of this modern-day transportation nightmare (yesterday, we say a license plate that read "495 SUX") is the city of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Well, yes, TECHNICALLY Washington D.C. is the heart, and Silver Spring is like a badly functioning ventricle. Or maybe an aorta.  Either way, it can't be fixed and should be put out of my misery as soon as possible.

I won't bore you with the details of my first sordid trip to Silver Spring, wherein I discovered that the stores downtown are all in tall buildings that look very lovely and modern on the outside, and are falling apart and/or skeezy on the inside.  (Lexington peeps, think Turfland Mall before it closed.)  The traffic alone is a nightmare.  That trip ended with me declaring emphatically that "nothing good can come from Silver Spring!"

Silver Spring does have one handy little (bitter bitter) feature (that I discovered the hard way):  Every other red line train coming out of DC in the afternoon stops at Silver Spring and then turns around.  So, if a person, say, in a hurry, and accidentally boards the Silver Spring-bound train, she has to get off at Silver Spring and re-board the NEXT red line train bound for Glenmont.  But this theoretical person isn't bound for Glenmont, oh no, she just wants to get to Forest Glen WHICH IS THE VERY NEXT STOP.  So that was a fun Monday.

To be fair, Suzy Train Rider would have boarded the same train she was now waiting for had she waited at, say, the Dupont Circle Station, only she probably would have been able to find a seat on the Glenmont-bound train, as it was an eight car, and not a six car train, and so wouldn't have jacked up her bum knee trying not to fall on the poorly-deoderanted fellow next to her because she is too short to reach the ceiling bar and this particular train didn't have the hangy-down thingies (a.k.a. "train uvulas") for short people who can't reach the ceiling bar and are crammed sardine-like in such a way that they cannot reach any of the vertical poles.

All hypothetically speaking of course.  Back to my story.

I left my cell-phone at home this morning.  When The Hubs discovered it, he called me at work to let me know and mentioned oh-so-casually that I should just take the train to Silver Spring, as an experiment with commute times (because you can never tell what one route is going to be like unless you actually do it.)  Its a slightly closer stop than Forest Glen, and thus probably $.20 or so cheaper.

This was a mistake.

First of all, let me just say that someone near me in the train car today was letting out exhaust that smelled like a concentrated cat-fart.  And it just went on and on.... so I was a happy, happy girl to be getting off the train.  I walked down the escalator (we do that here) and was quickly confronted with a dilemma:  the stiles were split, and there were two separate exit doors.

By the way, have you noticed that The Boy didn't mention anything about where we were supposed to meet up?  Remember this, it will be relevant in 3...

So, I went out the doors on the left side, and realized it just opened into a little walking plaza and the street, no sign of bus stops, parking lot, or garage (which is normally where the kiss and ride is).


So I walked around the building (would have had to pay to go back through the lobby - in one stile and out the other) and realized that there was a looooong walkway boarded by fences covered in blue tarp because they are building a shiny new garage.  There was also a sign that said "bus stops - parking ahead."  So I walked up hill, around a corner, up a hill some more, and came out the sheltered sidewalk area to discover-


I was standing in the middle of downtown Silver Spring with nary a parking lot or garage in sight.  There were buses, though, and generally, the buses are near the parking, so I walked that-a-way.  There was another sign before I crossed the street (I was walking parallel to US-29 aka Colesville Road aka #$*#()&%#*@# road) that said Kiss and Ride ahead.

That was a lie.  It was nowhere.  I had to walk up two more pretty steep hills, around a block and then back around a block (stupid lying pedestrian maps) before I finally found the garage.  I seated my freezing cold posterior (it was in the low 40s, but the sun was obscured by the clouds and there was a fairly blustery breeze going) upon a faux-wooden bench.

Where I sat.

And sat.

and sat.

I was honestly worried at this point, since my husband is a good sign follower and I'm not and -I- managed to find this ridiculous garage, and thought maybe something had happened.  I was also really mad at him for being late.

I kept trying to pray that the Lord would help me with my anger, but it kept going like this:

"God, I hope you don't mind I'm not closing my eyes because there are a large number of strangers milling around in this area, and I know most of them are just waiting for buses or rides like me and they just want to get home and see their families which I could DO if my husband would just stinking get here, sorry, Father, I was distracted, please give me the discipline to control my temper I know I'm being unreasonable, and please, please don't let anything bad have happened to him but if something bad didn't happen to him I am going to KILL him for letting me sit here this long OH MY GOODNESS, I'm cold, also, please let me not think about how hard this wind is blowing and I'm so sorry for complaining, I am truly, truly grateful for all the blessings you have given me like my family and my job and my home which is probably so warm right now, I wish I was there WHERE ON EARTH IS THE BOY."

Friends, I'm not a theologian but I can tell you that THAT, right there, is not a pattern of effective prayer.  I'm working on it.

Finally, I wandered over to a group of milling strangers and asked if any of them knew where I could find a payphone.

Fifteen minutes later, when they had finally stopped laughing, one of them loaned me his cell phone to call the boy.

Side note, I have memorized his phone number, he has not memorized mine, who's the thoughtful one NOW, huh, HUH?  booyah.

And the boy didn't answer.  I left him a sweet and loving message.

Hello, this is your WIFE, and I am waiting in the parking garage that I FOLLOWED THE SIGNS TO and is clearly marked "metro parking" and "kiss and ride," and since I've been standing in the cold for half an hour now, if you could see your way clear to picking me up that'd be great.  Bye.

Half an hour later, still no boy.  By this time, I had taken refuge behind a pillar, but this old white lady saw me standing there and got freaked out and called the cops.

So three large men wearing Metro security garb showed up, and informed me that "maybe I should wait on the bench" and then stood nearby in a group, whispering as I complied.  Then they stood nearby whispering and staring at me, and I'm sorry, but that point, I just started crying, silently, tears streaming down my face.  And suddenly, like an avenging angel, the boy appeared.

Standing across the street.

I won't say I didn't make a scene about "where the heck have you been???" before I noticed the lack of car, but then again, I was also bawling like a baby at the same time, so basically I was a mess.  Don't worry, I hugged him and let his nice polo get tears and snot on it before I was all "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN and also WHERE IS THE CAR???"  This was followed by confused looking around as if the car might magically appear.

Turns out, he had parked on the OTHER side of the metro, and by other side, I mean there was yet a THIRD entrance to the Silver Spring metro on the other side of 29, which I promise you, I say no signs or indications of when I stepped off the train, and he didn't realize that there were two MORE entrances on my side.  A nice 15 minute walk away.


Silver Spring sucks.

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