It’s been almost two years since I sat down on a train to go to work, and I haven’t missed it at all. The MARC train is super handy and served our family extremely well in the first six years I worked at WRI, but if I don’t have to spend 2.5 hours a day commuting and $2200 a year for tickets, I’m a very happy man.

We had a happy hour scheduled after work yesterday, so I weighed the pros and cons of driving and parking vs. taking the train. Driving is a pain in the ass, it’s expensive to park in DC, and given that I’ve cut way back on drinking recently I figure my tolerance is even weaker than it was before. So I really didn’t want to drive. But the idea of sitting in a hot metal tube with a bunch of other people in recirculated farty air wasn’t that appealing either (yes, the train smells like farts in the winter). I had no idea how busy the MARC trains are these days, but I decided the latter was the better option.

The parking lot was relatively deserted when Jen and Hazel dropped me off, and the train was even emptier. Soon the familiar lull of the rails soothed me into a half-sleep. I used to fall asleep on the train all the time. A couple of times I overslept and wound up in Baltimore, and I had to jump the next southbound train. I don’t miss that either. As we got close to Union Station I was dumbfounded by the number and size of the new buildings that have gone up in the H Street area adjoining the tracks—rows and rows of shiny condo buildings in places that used to be full of weeds and homeless encampments. I’m sure that having a bedroom directly adjacent to the busiest rail corridor on the East Coast would be an excellent investment opportunity.

The station itself was dark and quiet—many of the storefronts are still empty and what remains are quiet ghosts of their former selves. I walked outside and was happy to pass Clayton, the ever-cheerful flower vendor outside the west side exit, who was accompanying a Christmas recording with sleigh bells. I’ve wondered from time to time how he was doing—the flower business was his income—so it’s good to see he’s still alive and kicking.

I did some work in the office, swapped out a backup of our family media library into a locked cabinet at my desk (always have offsite backups, kids) and then hiked down the street to the Wuntergarten, an outdoor beer garden a couple of blocks from the office. We had about 20 people show up and it was fantastic to see friends in the flesh again. I caught up with a bunch of folks, had a couple of tasty beers, and ate some farewell cake for my boss, who is stepping down this month. I said my good-byes at about 9:20 thinking I’d make the 9:40 train. When I made it to the station I realized I’d read the schedule wrong and I’d be on the last train out at 10:55, so I texted Jen and apologized for my mistake. I put on a podcast and waited for an hour in a completely deserted station until they called my train. I definitely don’t miss that.

Date posted: December 15, 2021 | Filed under WRI | Leave a Comment »

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