And you thought your life was tough. Sit down and read.
The New York City subway, which has endured onslaughts of snow and rain, breathtaking variations in temperature and the general decline in humanity for more than a century, decided to act like a petulant child yesterday and punish all the unwashed masses who had upchucked $2.25 to ride its rails. Early in the morning, my #2 texted me, warning of “signal problems” that turned his ordinary 20-minute commute to work into a not-so-nostalgic 65-minute celebration of George W. Bush’s policy on torture.
Three hours later, knowing I had an Amtrak train to catch to New London, Conn., where the American Theatre Critics Association is holding its annual conference (in tandem with the various conferences occurring at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, (including the O’Neill’s renowned National Critics Institute, where I’ll teach this weekend), I allowed myself oodles of extra time to journey from my home to Penn Station by subway. It took 30 minutes to advance one stop. Not good.
People, by the way, act more and more like lemmings every day. Just 60 minutes remained for me to get to Penn Station — and not being interested in Amtrak soaking me for cash to change my ticket, I jumped off the train while sitting in that first subway station after my own and hauled my suitcase to the corner. Lemmings follow lemmings, so there was a mass exodus of humanity, dozens of people pouring into the staircase, then arriving on the street corner and coming about as near to fisticuffs over taxis and cab services as I’ve ever seen. Grown men, grown women, students, the elderly — the ire was palpable and I wasn’t about to lose my front teeth to a scorn-filled straphanger. So I called my usual car service, and $32 later, I arrived at Penn Station.
Did I forget to mention arriving at Penn Station at 12:29 and my train departing at 12:30? Details, details. Rarely in my life, at least outside of a Bloomingdale’s sale register, have I whipped out a credit card with such verve or brio. Slotted in, my tickets printed, I ran to the gate — as the train departed the station.
Did I forget to mention the air conditioning being off in Penn Station? Details, details. Rarely in my life, at least outside of a spa, have I seen quite so much steam and sweat. With a mad shrug and some sassy shlep-itude, I joined the snaking line to speak with an Amtrak representative. I decided I was going to throw the kitchen sink at whoever I encountered; I would be a one-man pity party with a lamenting lampshade on my head.