Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two Hours Forty Five Minutes

That was my commute home last night. See, I work in Rockville. As I experiment with the various methods of getting myself home, I have hit sort of a rhythm. Even driving, the getting home part always took longer. As I headed out yesterday, I noticed a helicopter hovering. From my vantage point it seemed it was hovering over a fairly uninteresting office building. I looked around to see if I could see something else that seemed of interest - nothing. Okay, I planted myself at the bus stop and hey, look, at that, a bus showed up immediately. Cool. The bus driver told me he was not the Q2, but a shuttle to Twinbrook so no payment was required. At this point I have now at least figured out that something is going on, but I still don't know what. I dug out my mp3 player and put the radio on.
As we pull up near the Rockville metro I can see the number of flashing lights and that access in and out of the station has been blocked. So, now I know what the helicopter was looking at, but still, no idea what's happening. (To be fair, I haven't asked either.)
We get to Twinbrook in reasonable time considering the mess the pike is that time of day. And now there are people amassed on the sidewalk. Reflectively attired WMATA people are asking them to please let us off before swarming onto the bus. More WMATA folks are letting those of us headed downtown just pass through the turnstiles. (Okay they are not really turnstiles, but you know what I mean.)
A train is pulling away as I get to the platform but another one arrives shortly. I see on the screens that they are busing people from Twinbrook to Shady Grove due to what is being described as a "police situation" at Rockville. While the first few stations are aboveground, there are tunnels in between to I keep getting interference on the radio - I hear an update that mentions Rockville and Dupont - what? - but no real details. The train stops longer than normal at Grovesnor, and the driver tells us there is a single tracking issue. We pause again at Bethesda. At this point frustrated people are getting off before their stops and finding other passengers to split cab fare and such. I figure I am so close to either of the stations I normally disembark from that it makes little difference.
I get off at Cleveland Park where the station manager, after hearing that another gentleman and I have arrived from stations north, lets us through the gate.
And, as expected, I have arrived mere minutes after the H bus has passed through, and since we are now at 8:40, the next one is expected at 9:17. Fine - I'll go to Starbucks. Except that the Starbucks there closes at eight. Which annoys me in part because I could have gotten out a Tenleytown - where the Starbucks would still be open - and caught the same bus. But fine. I treated myself to dinner and fortunately had a good book, some knitting, and an Express or two in my bag. And of course, even driving, all this nutso-ness would have impeded me. My experience was that overall WMATA had things in fairly good shape. Although I wasn't trying to retrieve a car from the Rockville lot. (Although that happened once when there was a gas spill in Silver Spring, and really, I just metroed home figuring it would be better by tomorrow.) So, I made it even if today my lack of normal decompression has me dragging.