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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

That Darn Train

Yesterday morning, I was running late, but not so late that I shouldn't have been okay on getting to work. Except I got stopped by the train. I hate the train. It's light rail--Minneapolis has one line--it goes from somewhere in the city down to the Mall of America, which of course, takes it right past the building where I work. Because of how I come in, I have to cross the tracks twice. Once when I get off the freeway and once when I turn onto the NWA property.

One of the things that doesn't help is that there's also an airport terminal on this road. Not the big MSP airport, but the Hubert Humphrey Terminal. It used to be just some charter airlines that flew out of there, but now some discounters do too. This means we have people driving others to the airport who are absolutely clueless about where they're going. It makes me insane when they don't turn left, just kind of sit there. "Turn!" I scream in my car, "Damn it, turn before that %$&# train comes!" Because you see, it's all about that stupid train.

If my timing is off by just a couple of minutes and I get stuck by two trains, I'm late. One morning, I even got stopped by three! That's never happened again, thank God. What makes things even worse than the actual train is the fact that the traffic lights are hosed. For some unknown reason, at some places, the light will turn red on all sides when the train light starts flashing. Even the traffic running parallel to the train gets stopped. Then, when the train goes past, the lights resume their normal cycle. Which can mean that the light will turn green just long enough to let one car through. Argh!

So while traffic can end up backed up onto the freeway from the off ramp, the train goes by with two or three people on it. :-( It's much busier later in the day, but before 6am when the mall won't be open for hours yet, no one has any real reason to head that direction. But of course, the train runs with the same frequency it does later in the day anyway--and it royally hoses up traffic.

But back to yesterday. Despite the people afraid to take the left hand turn onto the street, I made it off the ramp. One barrier overcome. But these same drivers go like 25 mph on the road and the speed limit is 40. This slowed me up enough yesterday that I couldn't make the left turn arrow onto NWA. I was the third car in line when the train light started to flash. I think I turned the air inside my car blue with profanity. I really hate that train.

I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it on time, but I rushed across the parking lot anyway (on foot!) and almost got run over by a car who was racing in while I was rushing. The lights were out in the parking lot (again) and I wear a dark jacket, but the point is that the train hoses up a lot of people, and depending on who your manager is, you could be forced to take a tardy. Pfft!

I ran into the hangars to punch because it's faster than waiting for the elevator, riding up to my floor and punching in. It's 5:59, the absolute last minute I can punch in and still be on time. I swipe my badge through, being quick, but not too quick because if you go too fast, the time clock won't read your magnetic stripe. As I'm swiping, the clock turned to 6:00. I have no clue whether it recorded me at 5:59 or 6:00.

When I got logged in to my computer, I checked. 5:59. Whew!

Have I mentioned how much I hate that expletive deleted train???