Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Business Time.

Sorry I've been slack about updating. I've been fairly busy with my vacation withdrawal and related workplace ennui. The first week back was so hard - everything was so bright and immediate, nothing at all like the smooth ease of being completely lazy and sloth-like. I'm always amazed at how quickly my sleep schedule changes when I have a week off, and just my schedule in general. But now I'm back and as an added bonus I had to travel up to DC on Monday for a non-profit-research-related class.

Now, let me just start with this: I don't travel much, especially for work, so it really messes me up. I get anxious and cranky and worry that things will go wrong. I was also not really looking forward to getting up at 4am to catch the 6am train. I do like the train, I just don't like having to catch it when it's still nighttime and I should be asleep.

But I did it. I got up at the crack of dawn and made myself presentable and drove myself in the dark of morning to the saddest place in the world, the Richmond train station. Now, we have a beautiful big fancy old station downtown (which I think might be back in business for the high-speed thingy only?) but most of the trains go through this pile of sadness:

(I filched this photo from Flickr! It ain't mine. Hopefully nobody will bust me.)

Right? It's awful. Inside it's just like a Greyhound station, all brown tile and despair. I usually hightail it out to the patio to wait because at least it's outside, even though its where all the smokers are hanging out.

The station in Ashland is the cutest:

And the Fredericksberg station isn't bad either (or as least the view from):

Anyway, the train was on time to the second and I scored a suite of facing seats so I could put my feet up, fire up the iPod and zone out. It was not the worst place to spend two hours. I got into DC a little after 8am and that's when things got rough. I had to navigate the Metro at rush hour. The DC Metro is really pretty easy, but not when I'm not being pushed around by hoards of impatient people all GO GO GO. Gah! It was rough but I just hung back and tried not to get in anyone's way. Those commuters will cut a bitch. I got my farecard, got to the right train and off I went.

I made the class with a minute to spare and settled into the empty back row. Each row was three seats at a slim 6' table, so I was hoping to be the only one on my row. Hahaa. The woman who sat next to me was friendly and all, but really do you usually sit back with your hands behind your head and elbows all askew when someone you don't know is sitting right next to you? Yeah, me either. Thanks for showing me your pits, lady. She also moved her seat wayyyy over my way so I was perched at the very corner, trying to take notes without my paper falling off the edge. Ugh, but that wasn't the worst of it, by far.

She had this incredibly annoying habit of responding to everything the instructor said, as if they were having a one-on-one conversation. It was like this:

Instructor: "Your mission is what is important to the corporation."

Lady: "Mm-hm! Yes it is."

Instructor: "It's important to know your board and know what kind of connections and relationships you can use to find the right corporations."

Lady: "Mm-hm, mmmm-hm!"

Oh my God. It was insane. She did that in response to nearly everything he said for the entire eight hours. I wanted to lean over and hiss: "HE CAN'T HEAR YOU BUT I CAN." She also enjoyed answering rhetorical questions, but that's not really surprising, considering.

The class was endless but by 4pm we were done. I had a 5:50 train to catch back home, so I went to Union station and skulked around until I was able to pick up some free Wi-Fi and caught up on my interneting. Now, Union Station is a TRAIN STATION. That is what I'm talking about. It's full of shops and food and weirdness and has some really good people watching, though the bathrooms could not be more disgusting.

I finally boarded the train home and magically managed to place myself in the same car as a bunch of shrill 9 year old boys and their parents, who all seemed to have endless cellphone calls to make. I picked up and fled after ten minutes and walked into the next car which was...nirvana. It was a Quiet Car, with signs everywhere telling people to shut the hell up. Perfection. I had a blissfully quiet ride home and was back on my couch by 8:30pm. The end.


  1. Regarding your classmate... I HATE those people. We had one in my program at VCU, so I was stuck with her for 3 years. It was clearly impossible for the teacher to say ANYTHING without her verbalizing. Unfortunately the teacher (Jim, you had Jim, right?) COULD hear her, and would frequently RESPOND, thus making all presentations take 4x as long.

  2. MaryB ... 18 inches down the hallJuly 23, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    First, how is that your office is 18 inches from mine and I didn't know you were out on Monday?

    Also I attended a funeral one time at a Catholic Church with a Black pastor. (WAAAAY unusual) And he did that Black Pastor thing, that Black Church thing, where he responded to stuff with "Amens" and "Sing it Sister" and stuff like that.

    Well, the son in law of the deceased did the first reading, and every time the pastor sang out, the guy stopped and turned and looked at him ... 'cause he thought he really was talking TO HIM and he didn't know what to do.

    VERY funny, particularly at the reception when we found out the SIL reading was JEWISH and had never been in a Catholic Church before!

    Loved it.

  3. I believe that's the Fredericksburg station, not Petersburg unless you were going north and south at the same time.

    Also, yes the Ashland station is awesome as is Union station. You can now appreciate how awesome I am in that I maneuvered Madeline and myself seamlessly through Union to the Metro and to Chinatown w/o a hitch.

  4. Oops, you're right! I always get the two confused.

  5. I recognised it because you go through it on the elevated tracks. Plus....wrong direction. :)

  6. Oh yes, I did about 10 years of going back and forth to NYC via that station, and you described it perfectly.