May 2, 2007

What a Way to Start Your Day...

So I had a fun commute to work the other day... She said with disdain and thinly veiled sarcasm.

Dima dropped me off as usual at the Wheaton Metro Station. You may not know this but Wheaton has the longest single-span escalator set in the Western Hemisphere, 230 feet (70 m) in length[1]. Though it may look like I'm just showing off with my knowledge of either the Metro System and/or escalators, I am not. This is central to the point of my story. (I also do happen to know a bit about the Metro System. I have another blog that I've been really slack about keeping up with: metro.texture, which is all random pictures I've taken with my cell phone camera on the Metro.) I digress...

Dima dropped me off. I got my Washington Post Express from my favorite newspaper guy and entered the station. Swiped my Smartrip card and stepped on to the escalator. So far this is a normal day. And the hours that preceded it were normal too. (I got up, took my vitamins, my allergy medicine, fed the cat checked my email, etc. )

About halfway down the escalator I started to feel ill. And with every second of descent the nausea grew more and more intense. I stopped walking down the escalator and thought if I just stop moving it will go away. No luck. About two-thirds of the way down I decided to get off as quickly as possible so as much as I could in my bulbous condition, I sprinted to the bottom. Standing there I started to feel even more sick. I tried to decide... do I continue to walk toward the platform or do I find a place to puke? Finding a place to puke won out.

Now, as anyone who rides the DC Metro with any regularity knows, (or maybe you don't know until you're in a desperate situation like mine) since 9-11 any an all types of open receptacles have have been removed from the stations. Even the newspaper recycle bins have been moved up to the exits of the stations and off the platform. And the trash cans that are still on the platform are bomb-proof, so if you're feeling the need to throw up you've got to defy physics and practically stick you head in from the side to make a deposit.

Well, faced with this lack of options I scurried, as well as I could, to the Glenmont platform. On that side of the station the trains head away from the city and at that time of morning there would be less people to witness the humiliating display that was soon to come.

Look I managed to find a picture of the Glenmont side. See the arrow? That's were my desperate search finally came to an end. I leaned over and threw up into what I like to call the pit of despair. This pit is full of trash, gunk, God knows what else and as extra bonus it's all wet. So there's me, by the orange arrow, hoping against hope that that was it. No such luck. Another wave of nausea hit and I leaned over again. In my second heave (sorry to be so graphic) not only did I throw up but my phone dislodged itself from my purse and flew over the side into the pit of despair.

Let's take a pause to let that sink in.

So by this time I'm just weeping. Because, one, no one likes to throw up, and two, now my phone is in the gunk and what am I supposed to do about it. And to top it off, I had made special effort not to be seen during any of this, so no one has seen me! No one has offered to help the poor pregnant woman that has thrown up into the pit of despair. It was horrible.

So I head back to the now feared escalator. I need help. I don't know what is wrong with me and my phone is in a disgusting, wet hole. As is to be expected the ride makes me feel ill again and I cry the whole way up. It was great.

When I reach the top I head straight to the kiosk where the station manager sits. She was standing outside the door and listened in horror as I apologized for throwing up downstairs and then explained through weepy tears what had happened. First things first, she asks me if I needed an ambulance. I considered this but dismissed it, thinking it was motion sickness or lack of breakfast. (Which I was going to eat when I got to the office so don't get too excited about the Prego not taking care of herself.) The manager, whom I would later come to know was Ms. Wright, saw right away that I'm in a state. She ushers me into the kiosk, insists I sit in her chair, GIVES me the water out of HER lunch and goes to get the maintenance man.

When the two of them get back I re-explain to them and a gathering crowd of Metro employees what happened. Major, the maintenance man, asks "did [I] throw up ON the platform." And when I explain, no, I threw up into the pit of despair, I can see the relief on his face. Because, of course, no one has to clean up the pit of despair. Now all we have to do is get my phone out of it.

So we head back down to the platform, this time by elevator since clearly the 230 foot escalator had played a part in my malaise. On the way we chat a little. I comment on his height, which is significant and find that he is an inch taller than Dima, 6'9". We discuss the type of car he drives/fits into and visa versa. He then proceeds to tell me about a store in Frederick, Md. that makes clothes for tall men, giants even. Through all of this I've apologized again and again, about 10 times, and thanked him for helping me. He kindly acts as if it's no big deal.

So we get to the platform and lead him to the pit of despair. We immediately see my phone in pieces, minus the battery pack. See when my phone flew out of my purse and smacked into the muck, it broke apart. The back came off and the battery slid out of site under the platform. Major begins to use his nifty grabbing tool to get each of the pieces and pull them out of the pit. Still, we could not find the batteries. I insist it's okay. I can get another battery pack. At least I've got the phone, and more importantly the information in the phone. So what does he do? He crawls over the side and down into the pit of despair. All 6'9" of him. Good grief.

Well long story short he ducked underneath the platform and retrieved my battery pack from the muck, climbed back out, then took me back upstairs to the EMPLOYEE restroom so I could clean myself and my phone up. I did so and then upon exit profusely thanked Major and Ms. Wright for everything they had done. Then I headed back down the elevator and to work.

By far, though it started out horribly, this is the best Metro experience of my life.