I Was a Real Commuter

By “real commuter” I mean that I used public transportation to go back and forth between my suburban homestead (in this case, the Marriott Courtyard in Alexandria, Virginia) and my office in the city.

When I was in school – that would be The American University – I lived on campus all four years.  I know it sounds lame, but my closest friends were those in the dorms and my room was my room and it really was so very convenient.  But AU’s campus isn’t exactly an urban environment.  It is up Embassy Row, and Tenleytown (the closest Metro stop) is the last stop in the district before you hit Maryland.  Because I never bothered to snag one of the fabulous internships on which AU recruits, I was only using the Metro on weekends.  Hardly the same experience.

As I’ve said, I am now in Washington DC several times a year.  But generally, I stay at a hotel across the street from the office.  I roll out of bed, get dressed, stop at Starbucks and walk to work.  Because my regular hotel was booked, I took a look at the Metro map, logged on to Marriott.com and found something suitable.

It was a short walk to the station.  A bit over half a mile, I think – contrary to Marriott.com, which said .3 miles.  The hotel had a shuttle, but the first thing I learned is that the shuttle is never there when you need it.

No, I probably learned that in college, too.

The second thing I learned is that I really don’t want to lug the laptop back and forth to the office when I am climbing the highway overpass every day.  And OMG, going on the train with real luggage was a pain.  But the great thing is that my pedometer read one mile by the time I reached my desk in the morning.  Further osbervations:

  1. The power commuters live even further out than the end of the line.  So the cars are half full before they ever get to the second stop.  Thus, it really helps to leave the house earlier.
  2. No one can hear you, they are all wearing iPods.
  3. The Metro takes credit cards!
  4. The elevators are always out somewhere.  Handicapped accessible stations are a myth.
  5. Walk left, stand right .  For serious.

OK, that last one I already knew, too.  But as long as I have a teaching moment, that is a good rule.  Follow it at the airport, too.

It was good to know that if I ever had to, I could do the public transportation thing every day.  But I still love my car.

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