I don't have anything to write about today, so I'm just going to type. Something will occur to me. I'm writing a paper, so I think I've used up all the words I have. I could just not blog, but that's ridiculous, right? What's going on, what should I write about?
Here's something. I took the Metro today to meet a friend at a restaurant in Capitol Hill. Public transit usually is the mother lode of blogging material, but I was the only person on the train worth writing about, and that was because I reached dizzying heights of ineptitude taking what should have been a routine trip. I don't usually have any difficulty with the Metro. I get lost driving all the time, and that includes trips that I've taken more than once. The fact that I've driven someplace five times does not guarantee that I won't get lost on drive number six. But Metro is simple, as long as you remember a few basic rules. I violated the following two rules today:
Rule #1: Sometimes, it's NOT on the Red Line!
Rule #2: DON'T park in a Metro garage unless you're SURE you have enough money on your ironically-named Smarttrip card to pay for the parking as you leave the garage. This one is especially important.
Metro has a Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Orange line. 90% of my destinations are on or near the Red Line, and I'd always rather walk than change trains. It's been so long, in fact, since I've changed trains that I completely forgot that Capitol South is (see rule #1) NOT ON THE RED LINE. Normally, I'd get off at Union Station and walk, but I was running a tiny bit late, so I thought "Capitol South is a block away from the restaurant. I'll just stay on the train til Capitol South and walk so I'm not late". Just as the train pulled out of Union Station, I heard "next stop, Judiciary Square". Crap. Now I'm even farther away. My options are keep going to Metro Center, change trains (hate) and head back to Capitol South, walk from Judiciary Square (I'll be way late), or get off at Judiciary, cross the track and ride back to Union Station and walk (I'll still be late, but less so). I went back to Union Square and walked, having already texted my friend about my idiocy. Lunch lunch lunch, talk talk talk, time to go. This time, I took Capitol South and changed trains (still hate) because it was raining.
Did you know that when you purchase a (yeah, right) Smarttrip card, you're charged $5 just for the card? So $10 buys you $5 worth of actual service and $5 worth of plastic. You didn't know that, did you? I didn't either. I had a $10 card, and was even smart enough to use an old farecard to go home, because I was afraid I'd exceed $5.25 in fare because I'd ridden a few extra stops and because my trip would end after 3 pm, triggering peak fare. I'm brilliant, right? And if not for the $5 charge, I'd have been fine. But there WAS a $5 charge, meaning I had $2.85 left with which I had to pay $4.75 in parking. The parking exits are unattended. They don't accept cash. They don't accept credit cards. They don't take old Metro passes or farecards. You need to have four electronic dollars and seventy-five electronic cents loaded on your card, or you just can't get out.
When I flashed my card, I was still unaware of the $5 charge, so when I got the "negative value" message, I thought "silly. I have more than $7 on here! This exit must be experiencing technical difficulty!" Very luckily, it was only a few minutes past 3, and the exit was not busy. I backed out and pulled into the adjacent exit. "Negative value". Hmm, I thought. Is there something wrong with this card? I backed out and tried again. Several other cars had breezed through at this point, so it was either the card or me. I called the "if you're stuck, call this number" number, and spoke to a very nice man who explained the $5 charge. He dispatched another nice person who freed my car and me, and I drove home. The Metro stop is less than a mile away from my house, and I finished my trip without incident.
It's come to this, then. I'm blogging about a Metro trip gone mildly wrong and a parking incident. Maybe there's something to this crazy idea of blogging when you actually have something to write about.