Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Here's the story of a girl trying to get to work in the midst of a severe winter storm in California last Friday ("severe" was the term used by weather.com to describe this storm, so don't think I'm exaggerating). This story starts at 6:30 am because that's when this girl (who shall remain nameless, but will be referred to as "Penny" for the rest of the story [yes, that's for you Kristen]) leaves her house to go to work. It was already raining heavily when Penny walked outside and got in her car. As the storm was "severe" and the traffic was certain to be messy, Penny opted to take the train so she wouldn't have to drive the 50 miles to work in the rain and traffic. Good choice or bad choice? Let's look at what happened. Arriving at the train station in plenty of time (on a normal day) to pay for parking and validate her train ticket before the train arrived, Penny noticed that the train station was a little busier than normal and believed that others also must have wanted to avoid driving in a severe storm. She parked and walked to the pay-for-parking machines, but realized that she forgot to check her parking space number (which is necessary to pay for parking). So, she walked back to the space to check the number. Meanwhile, she's managing to stay fairly dry on top as she has a waterproof, hooded jacket on, but her shoes and pants aren't doing an awesome job of repelling the rain. She walks back to the machines to pay and encounters a crowd of people near the machines irritated because the machines aren't accepting dollar bills. One guy asked Penny if she has any change, but she replies that she doesn't have enough for herself and him (does this remind you of the ten virgins?). She checks to see if she even has enough change for herself, decides she does, and starts feeding quarters into the machine. Meanwhile the rain hasn't stopped and she is getting wetter by the minute. As she's looking for more change, the lights near the machines go out and she can't see the change in her wallet. As she juggles her lunch, the newspaper, and her wallet while trying to find the right coins by sight, water continues to pour down and the machines stop taking any money. Penny gives up on paying for parking (because the machines won't take her money and because she's getting soaked) and decides she'll risk getting a ticket. Just then the railroad crossing bars start going down, signalling the approach of the train. At this point, Penny has been standing in the rain for over five minutes trying to pay for parking. Now she has to run across the tracks to catch the train. She barely makes it as the train doors are closing, but she didn't have time to validate her train ticket. So, she gets on the train and asks the conductor to validate it for her. She is wet and irritated and the conductor tells Penny that she can just jump off at the next station and validate it and then jump back on. So, Penny walks to a door and jumps off at the next stop. It's still raining, of course, and there is no cover at this train station. No ticket validators are in sight, however, so Penny jumps back on and goes looking for the conductor. After walking the length of the train twice, Penny finally finds the conductor and asks him to validate her ticket. He tells her to take care of it when she gets to her destination. She sits down, very wet, cold, and with her hands full of stuff, trying to dry out a little. Upon arriving at her destination, Penny gets off the train and heads to the shuttle stop where she'll catch a shuttle to work. She opts not to validate her train ticket, deciding that if the conductor is too lazy to do it, she's taking her free train ride. Fortunately Penny has dried out a little and is able to wait for the shuttle under an overhang. After a short wait, the shuttle comes and she gets on. At the next shuttle stop, Penny has to switch shuttles, so she hops off and waits under the shuttle stop roof for the next shuttle. The rain was still coming down, but she has been lucky to be under cover for the most part. By the time Penny's suttle comes, she has dried out quite a bit and is thinking that maybe things aren't so bad. But, as the shuttle arrives at it's destination, Penny will have to walk about 50 yards to her building with no cover but an umbrella. By this time, the rain is coming down harder and the wind has picked up, making the weather pretty ugly. Penny gets off her shuttle and starts walking to her building with her umbrella. The umbrella does no good since the rain is coming at her from the side and the wind blows her umbrella inside out anyway. Penny finally gets into her building and looks down to see that she is drenched after having almost dried out before getting off the shuttle. Penny sits down at her desk, soaked. She takes off her shoes so they can dry out and gets to work. She dries out after a couple hours, but she leaves her shoes off all day so they can dry. When it's time to go home, she puts her now dry shoes on and heads out. Fortunately the rain has lightened up a little and when she gets back to the car, she doesn't have a ticket! So, Penny had a miserable time riding the train in the morning, but ends up riding the train for free and getting to work all day with no shoes on. So, was taking the train a good choice or a bad choice? Good choice. If Penny had driven, she might have gotten in a car accident and been killed.