November 07, 2005

Late for the train, part n+1

This morning I was late for the train due to a little cycling maneuver known as chainus interruptus. Luckily I had my gloves with me so my fingers didn't get covered with the dirtiest substance known to man: gear goo. Thanks also to man's best friend, the Swiss Army Knife, in particular the bottlecap opener/screwdriver blade. But I knew that the train would be about 30 seconds late due to the late fall phenomenon of wet leaves on the tracks (its true, they really screw up trains). Sure enough, I got to the station in time to see my train pulling in, and here I sit in the quiet section, the loudest noise the tapping of keys on my laptop. The other fun thing was I got to shout at a taxi trying to make a left turn through the (my!) bike lane. The taxi-van backed down. Got to defend your space.

Up in Stockholm they have invented a device that uses a high power infrared laser to burn leaves off the tracks. Leaves are only one of the many things that can make trains late. The others include snow, rain, fog, switches, signals, power lines, other trains, left luggage, divergent rails, crew didn't show up for work, the dreaded union work slow-down, metal fatigue, and malaise. This last is a hard-to diagnose cluster of chronic ailments with a variety of indicators including shimmy, hiss, resonance and distemper.

One time the train's operating system refused to work. Another time the train stopped because they couldn't get the toilets to flush. I think I have seen it all.


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