Author Topic: Commuting horror stories  (Read 21038 times)

marty998

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Commuting horror stories
« on: December 06, 2013, 04:03:20 PM »
Ok guys, this is a thread for telling us your horror stories about your worst ever commute. Here's mine:

About 5 years ago it was a stinking hot 43C day, fanned by super charged blazing hot north-westerly winds. I had a 40km train trip in front of me. I left work at 5pm, with a 1L bottle of ice cold water.

Our train network in the city area is buried underground. It was built in the 1920's and has not changed much since. Town Hall station is an awful prospect on the best days, but when trains are delayed god help you navigate the crush.

Half an hour later I squeezed onto my outer suburban train with 4000 of my nearest and dearest friends. Capacity is a funny word when it comes to Sydney trains. The network operator (then called Cityrail) regularly publishes statistics on capacity utilisation across the network. My line runs at 180% of capacity in morning and afternoon peaks. This train would have been running at close to 220%. The concept of personal space was left behind outside the station.

Doors close and the air conditioner over heated and broke. Cue audible groans.

What would normally be a 10 minute trip through the tunnels took 30 and we pop out into the open. And stopped. Exposed to the blistering heat. Further down the line a major signal box had melted. The train guard, apologising profusely said we would be stuck for at least 45 minutes. I took my ice cold water bottle out. It was no longer ice cold.

I was so squashed up against so many people that I didn't notice the circle of toddlers playing hide and seek underneath all of us adults. One started crying, obviously suffering in the heat, his mum had run out of water. I thought about what is worse. 43C heat and being dehydrated or 43C with screaming kiddies in a tightly enclosed space. So I gave some to the poor little boy, and his 3 little girl-friends.

The bottle was empty, the train was moving at walking pace. Signals were being manually turned on and off by hand. We crawled into a major station on the line which is approx half way between the city and my home. Guard makes an announcement: due to mechanical fault this train is being pulled from service. This train is terminating.

Thousands emptied onto the platform, with no idea what to do. So we waited for the next train.

By now it was pushing 7:30pm, the temp had dropped to a balmy 41C. The next train came in, I couldn't get on it. Because of the way our line splits towards the end, I have to get every 3rd train. So waiting, waiting, waiting, finally. But guess what, this one is also pretty much at 220% capacity, and has 4 carriages not 8.

I've always been pretty quick on my feet, so when I see one person getting off, bingo, it means there has to be space for 1 to squeeze on.

The fat lady charging like a mad hippo behind me didn't have a chance.

Driver makes an announcement "This train is an express, we have been given priority". I was at the olympic stadium when John Aloisi scored that penalty against Uruguay that sent us to the 2006 world cup. I swear the cheer from this train was louder than that cheer heard at the ground.

2 stops before mine is an interchange station. The sun was hanging low at 7:45. The train abruptly terminates. In front of us, the tracks had buckled. No one was going anywhere.

Several hundred of us bedraggled commuters got off to be greeted by a bus.

1 bus was all that was available. For all commuters heading south all evening.

I had no choice to walk. With my car parked at my station, and no taxis or family to call nearby I had a 6km and 1hour long walk ahead.

I quickly found a group of likeminded souls who had the same idea and off we went. Each recounting a different version of the same horror story of the past 3 hours. What fun we had.

Fortunately once in the car it's a short 5 minute drive home with no traffic. At 5 to 9, almost 4 hours later I collapsed in the shower.


So that's it folks, come on now don't be shy. I want to hear your tales of snow, sleet, thunder and cyclonic wind. Don't hold back
« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 04:08:36 PM by marty998 »

abliviax

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 05:06:35 PM »
Maybe not horror story but funny.

A friend's wife has been commuting with the VP of IT who (somewhat unfortunately) lives near here and suggested the arrangement.

They have to leave at 6a every morning.  She is dead tired.  He won't stop talking.

"So this weekend we went to Eldorado Canyon [CO] as a family.  It was out like the middle of nowhere - there weren't even any buildings around.  Have you ever been to a place like that?"

"We are going as a family to Comicon"

etc.  Plus she often has to wait until late to leave.  I think she may be done with that now.

mrcheese

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 08:15:40 PM »
Ah, Sydney trains. An hour or more on a summer afternoon with your face smooshed into a strange man's sweaty armpit. Or if you're 'lucky' and get a seat, your face is within an inch of a stranger's bum (if you're lucky).
I find that some Perth bus drivers don't believe in air-con, but some buses are designed for air-con and are therefore hermetically sealed. My recurring real-life commuting horror story is being stuck up the back of an airless bus, surrounded by flatulent sociopaths...
But it beats driving in traffic and THEN paying ~$20 a day for parking.

rockstache

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2013, 11:18:47 AM »
My worst commute ever was last year when my company let everyone go home early because of the incoming blizzard. Unfortunately, they did this only after the blizzard had arrived, and it was extremely dangerous to drive. My normally 30 minute commute took over 3 hours, during which I spun out into very dangerous oncoming traffic no less than 3 separate times (was never actually hit, thank goodness). Twice I was able to get out on my own, and once strangers came to help dig me out. At another point, there was an enormous tree down across the entire road, and I had to reroute myself through a neighborhood that I was totally unfamiliar with. I was driving so slow and white knuckled for the entire 3 hours, that by the time I got home, I had a raging headache. I basically collapsed onto my husband like a sobbing pile of mush. From now on, I will be leaving work early (on my own schedule) if I think it will be that bad again, no matter what they say.

El Gringo

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2013, 11:35:05 AM »
My worst commute ever was last year when my company let everyone go home early because of the incoming blizzard. Unfortunately, they did this only after the blizzard had arrived, and it was extremely dangerous to drive. My normally 30 minute commute took over 3 hours, during which I spun out into very dangerous oncoming traffic no less than 3 separate times (was never actually hit, thank goodness). Twice I was able to get out on my own, and once strangers came to help dig me out. At another point, there was an enormous tree down across the entire road, and I had to reroute myself through a neighborhood that I was totally unfamiliar with. I was driving so slow and white knuckled for the entire 3 hours, that by the time I got home, I had a raging headache. I basically collapsed onto my husband like a sobbing pile of mush. From now on, I will be leaving work early (on my own schedule) if I think it will be that bad again, no matter what they say.

A similar thing happened in DC two years ago. The federal government let it's employees out early, just as a blizzard was coming. There were stories of people who had 20-30 mile commutes being stuck in their cars for 14 hours. For everyone who actually lived *in* DC and commute my bike, feet, or metro, we all had a blast playing in the snow and drinking in the bars. But all the car-clowns were stuck for hours on the highway!

JessieImproved

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 11:40:45 AM »
45 minutes driving home at 5pm, into the sun, 95 deg F, in traffic, lots of lights.  Car would overheat if you ran the air.  It was likely well over 100 inside the car.  When we finally figured out what was wrong with my air, it turned out the temperature sensor had come loose.

My dad has me beat though - coming home to Atlanta from working in Nashville, during the bad ice storm of '93, he was stuck on I-75S for 8 hours, dead stop.

yomimono

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2013, 02:16:30 PM »
Way back in early Mustachian times, I was doing a mixed bus/bike commute to my depressing office out in the 'burbs.  One morning I pulled the cord for my stop, told the driver I had to get my bike off the front of the bus and received the usual uncaring grunt in reply, and went out the front door to get the bike.  While I was undoing the mechanism that fastens the bike to the rack on the front of the bus, the driver let off the brake and shoved his bus into me!  Luckily everyone else on the bus screamed at him (I didn't - too shocked) and he hit the brake again right away, but he pretty obviously would've run me right over if there hadn't been other people there to make a big fuss.  I, and a few people on the bus, called Metro and reported it, but I never heard anything more about it. 

Shortly thereafter I quit that job, and I usually do my trips entirely by bike these days - much safer that way.

gillstone

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2013, 02:26:26 PM »
Roughly 10 years back I had a job traveling from one city to another for a week or two and then returning home.  I had a 4 hour drive in front of me and it was pouring rain and night time.  As I was coming through the Bitterroot Mountains I was surrounded by a series of lighting strikes all within a 1000 feet of my car.  It was beautiful (and terrifying) but it also killed my night vision when my visbility was already poor.  I nearly rear-ended an out-of-stater who thought a good response to bad weather was to stop on the freeway.  Once I got home at 1 AM I peeled my knuckles of the steering wheel and collapsed in bed.

capital

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2013, 06:26:43 PM »
I have an anti-horror story!

I was living in San Diego when there was a blackout throughout the county: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Southwest_blackout

The power went out around 3:30PM on a weekday. After a bit, everyone realized the power wasn't going to come back on, and they should head home. That meant just about every worker in the car-loving San Diego suburbs left work at the same time, and every traffic signal in the county was out. There was continuous gridlock for miles.

Fortunately, I was biking, so I just glided past the traffic-- 10 miles of roads along my road were totally gridlocked. Then I drank liquor on the beach, which fortunately does not require electricity.

theSchmett

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2013, 08:18:29 PM »
I can't even begin to count the times stuck on the train, not to mention threatened by angry whackos, sat in either tons of scribbled red ink or DRIED BLOOD [shiver], SOAKED TO THE SKIN after getting off the train and trying to walk to work [several times now I have raingear], that one time I was walking to the train and saw a guy running off with a purse and jewels on a bike getting chased by cops on foot one of whom gets hit by another cop car [CRUNCH - awful]... there was the walk to 125th street from midtown on Sept. 11th to catch Metro North (although  I count myself lucky)... standing up in the vestibule next to a guy with dust all over his shoes from ground zero.

I've been train commuting in the NYC Metro Area (mostly NYC, some Newark, a little New Brunswick) from several metro NY locations and on several lines, and my work is now in the field transportation.

For ALL the trials and tribulations, its WAY better than driving.

And everyone is too tough on the transit operators, although they aren't always shining examples of forethought they move about a pavillion people a day.

There was also the four hour trip into DC on the Metro to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity, that should've taken about 30 minutes, was crowded like we were fleeting from an alien invasion, with  my wife holding my 4 month old and me wrestling with his stroller. But that wasn't exactly a commute. Hilarious because of the way the system operates, we got onto the train going backwards, and stayed on as it flipped around to go towards DC.

I will add that the story about the blazing hot Sydney train sounds bonkers. Seriously dangerous.

Oh one time riding home in a car with some friends the town we were in FLOODED. Driving through water up to the Honda Pilot's door sills, many places impassible, the neighborhood near the office's stormwater management just failed...

Paul der Krake

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2013, 08:32:09 PM »
Torrential rain bursting out of nowhere exactly at the half way point of the bike commute, while wearing blue jeans and a wool sweater, both of which tend to soak up water pretty well. Needless to say the day was rather uncomfortable.

Jack

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2013, 08:57:46 PM »
45 minutes driving home at 5pm, into the sun, 95 deg F, in traffic, lots of lights.  Car would overheat if you ran the air.  It was likely well over 100 inside the car.  When we finally figured out what was wrong with my air, it turned out the temperature sensor had come loose.

45 minutes one-way in Atlanta? Man, the traffic must have been light that day!

(That's how long my anti-mustachian 30-mile reverse commute from near the zoo out to Gwinnett normally takes me.)

Because my commutes are reverse, they're a lot less variable and so it's hard for me to think of the worst one. The worst traffic I remember was in the 2009 flood, but that wasn't a commute. My parents were out of town and wanted me to go check on their house, and every route to it was flooded except for the route via River Road (which is exactly what I had expected to flood first!).

marty998

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 04:12:58 AM »
For ALL the trials and tribulations, its WAY better than driving.


How true. No matter how shit the trains get I still wouldn't drive.

But I would take the Sydney heat anyday over being mugged or accosted by an angry psycho in NYC.

theSchmett

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2013, 06:22:35 AM »
Marty,

I've never ACTUALLY been accosted. But one time someone who didn't feel like sharing a seat (crowding me out physically) made it clear he had recently been released from prison. He looked like he had spent a lot of time lifting weights.

Did I find another seat? Hell no. Yes he could've torn me apart (and I'm not exactly small) but some guy likely on parole and on his way to a job likely isn't going to start some shit on the train and wind up BACK in Rahway State Penitentiary.

Now THIS reminds me of the WORST trip, it was a bus ride from Ithaca to NYC, with two guys who had just gotten out of Auburn, and who started drinking, and one of whom was ENORMOUS, stitches tearing out of his t-shirt gigantic, and were already into a case of beer at the bus station... well the greyhound driver let them on with their Trailways tickets (slower more local, cheaper service) and it all went downhill from there.

They actually did threaten me scarily, right in my face, to the point where I had my swiss army knife unfolded in my pocket. They were harassing some women on the train, I don't think it got past verbal though.  The driver tried to intervene, and we wound up meeting the police at the first stop in Binghamton.

I was only 18, but never proud of how I wasn't able to stand up to these two guys. That's probably the worst transit trip I've ever had. I never took the bus from Ithaca again.

GuitarStv

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2013, 07:12:13 AM »
I was biking to work last winter on a pretty chilly day (about -15) when my nose started to run a lot.  Didn't think too much of it until I looked down . . . due to the dryness and cold it had started to pour blood.  Due to my level of exertion it was STREAMING blood.  There was blood all down my jacket, blood all over my bike, on my water bottle, my gloves, my shoes, and my ski pants.  I also had nothing to stop the blood . . . so I continued my bike ride (45 minutes each way, and I was probably 20 minutes in) to work with everyone on the roads looking at me a little funny.  (Funnier than usual, I mean few people bike around here in the winter.)  I distinctly remember smiling a big blood soaked grin and waving at one particularly horrified woman driving past me.  My nose slowed and more or less stopped bleeding after about ten minutes.

Got in to work, and had to tip toe in the back entrance and run for our showers (where I spent about 30 minutes rinsing blood off of my clothing and stuff).  Then as I was done cleaning up and getting out of the shower the only other person in our building who bikes in the winter came in and asked me if I'd seen the bloody handprints at the bike rack.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2013, 08:47:15 PM »
Got in to work, and had to tip toe in the back entrance and run for our showers (where I spent about 30 minutes rinsing blood off of my clothing and stuff).  Then as I was done cleaning up and getting out of the shower the only other person in our building who bikes in the winter came in and asked me if I'd seen the bloody handprints at the bike rack.

"What? Oh, no, didn't notice that. I've been here since 6:32AM. I am holding today's newspaper, dated January 6th, 2013."

*Takes snapshot of himself in mirror, with other biker and newspaper plainly in frame*

*Mutters under breath about emailing picture to establish alibi*

"Have a good day!"

MicroRN

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2013, 08:54:28 PM »
There was also the four hour trip into DC on the Metro to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity, that should've taken about 30 minutes, was crowded like we were fleeting from an alien invasion, with  my wife holding my 4 month old and me wrestling with his stroller.

We didn't have a problem with the trip in, it was once the rally was over and everyone was trying to leave!  We ended up walking to Arlington Cemetery to be able to catch a train.  I was pregnant and definitely not feeling happy at that point.   

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2013, 08:56:43 PM »
Not a normal commute, but we were driving to my wife's first travel nurse assignment. Hit a freak snowstorm, interstate was backed up, basically stranded the entire night (over eight hours). There was never an alert about the interstates being closed...I guess because technically they weren't, people just panicked and stopped where they were. Lots of snowmen were built on the side of the road. Watched some people leave their car and go off into the wooded area (you can only hold pee in for so long). We were traveling with our two kids (daughter was under two months old) and four cats.

Luckily we were in our RV.

hybrid

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2013, 02:13:54 PM »
My worst commute ever was last year when my company let everyone go home early because of the incoming blizzard. Unfortunately, they did this only after the blizzard had arrived, and it was extremely dangerous to drive. My normally 30 minute commute took over 3 hours, during which I spun out into very dangerous oncoming traffic no less than 3 separate times (was never actually hit, thank goodness). Twice I was able to get out on my own, and once strangers came to help dig me out. At another point, there was an enormous tree down across the entire road, and I had to reroute myself through a neighborhood that I was totally unfamiliar with. I was driving so slow and white knuckled for the entire 3 hours, that by the time I got home, I had a raging headache. I basically collapsed onto my husband like a sobbing pile of mush. From now on, I will be leaving work early (on my own schedule) if I think it will be that bad again, no matter what they say.

A similar thing happened in DC two years ago. The federal government let it's employees out early, just as a blizzard was coming. There were stories of people who had 20-30 mile commutes being stuck in their cars for 14 hours. For everyone who actually lived *in* DC and commute my bike, feet, or metro, we all had a blast playing in the snow and drinking in the bars. But all the car-clowns were stuck for hours on the highway!

Ohhhh, I remember that well.  I live in Richmond, 100 miles south but what may as well be a world away.  We don't have anything like the traffic in DC, it can be hellish up there on the normal days.  I have no idea how you folks put up with it.

Worst day in Richmond had to be when the remnants of Gaston, just a tropical depression by the time it got to us, decided to park itself over Richmond in 2004.  Between 10-14 inches of rain fell in a day, and by late afternoon flash flooding struck downtown Richmond (where I worked, thankfully up a hill).  The Interstate was flooded and completely closed where I-64 and I-95 merge, and all that traffic was diverted into downtown.  Some folks were on the road 4 to 6 hours before finally making it home, and a bunch of folks abandoned the idea entirely and got a hotel room.

I was one of the lucky ones, I used every back road and alley I knew about to get out of downtown and made it home in an hour, and one of the bridges I used washed out later that evening.  This was the same storm that damaged TrulyStashin's home if I recall.

The unlucky ones who parked in Shockoe Bottom lost their cars to the flooding.  Eight folks never made it home at all that day.  No one saw it coming.  We knew there would be heavy rain that day, but no one knew the storm would get stuck over top the city.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEGVNn1wSo4     

nawhite

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2013, 03:37:15 PM »
This one time on the Denver Light Rail, while I was comfortably sitting in my seat, a transit officer got on and asked if he could see our tickets!!! Can you believe it?!?! </sarcasm>

These stories remind me how incredibly happy I am that I live 300 yards from a light rail station and work 200 yards from a different station 20 minutes away. I don't miss driving AT ALL.

Caoineag

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2013, 04:08:23 PM »
I have done commuting by car and commuting by bus/rail. I have plenty of 2-3 hour commutes that should have taken 30 minutes by car but the consistently worse commute was when the union who drove the buses went on strike in Denver. They packed us in like sardines and we still left people at bus stops due to lack of space. I remember hearing one of the other passengers say that they were marking parking up to $40 and there was talk about legal action against the parking lot owners. That lasted for a couple of weeks but I was lucky to be far enough away from downtown that I was always able to get on the bus. Some people would drive to the bus stops, pick up a bunch of people and split the cost of gas and parking as well. I was actually amazed at how well people worked together to survive the situation.

mm1970

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2013, 08:19:49 PM »
Maybe not horror story but funny.

A friend's wife has been commuting with the VP of IT who (somewhat unfortunately) lives near here and suggested the arrangement.

They have to leave at 6a every morning.  She is dead tired.  He won't stop talking.

"So this weekend we went to Eldorado Canyon [CO] as a family.  It was out like the middle of nowhere - there weren't even any buildings around.  Have you ever been to a place like that?"

"We are going as a family to Comicon"

etc.  Plus she often has to wait until late to leave.  I think she may be done with that now.
Not a commute story but...
Years ago, when I was first in the Navy, I decided to go back from DC to Pittsburgh to visit friends for the weekend.  Pittsburgh happened to be where we had 6 months of school for our Navy training, starting about 6-12 months after you join.  So at this point, I hadn't gone to the school yet, but there was always a class going.

I mentioned my weekend plans and a coworker says "Oh, I know someone who might need a ride, her husband is up at the school!"  So I agree to give her a ride.

She starts by buckling her Mac II into the back seat of my Escort.

And proceeds to talk.  Nonstop.  For 4.5 hours.  Even once freaking out on me "OH MY GOD you got REALLY close to that barrier!!  Are you tired?  Because if you are tired, I can drive.  Really.  Do you need me to drive?  Well, I'm not a great driver.  Last time I drove my husband's car I fell asleep at the wheel and ran into the back and under a semi truck.  But I can drive if you want."

So when I picked her up on Sunday, I made sure to have the radio on in the car, very loudly, before she got in.

Also funny, a year later, her husband and I become best buds.  I mean, he was in my wedding best buds.  (They are divorced, he has since remarried...to a woman very similar).

mm1970

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2013, 08:25:24 PM »
Worst commute - luckily when I lived in DC, I walked or took metro most of the time, so snow didn't affect me.

But when I was in Pittsburgh for school in 93, a big blizzard hit, closed most of the roads but not our school.

We got stuck on a big hill behind a bunch of cars that kept sliding backwards.  Now, because it had snowed for two days, the only car that was dug out (4 of us carpooled), was the guy who went to church on Sunday, and it was a rear wheel drive old BMW.

A 15 minute commute took 2 hours.  We got 1/2 way up the hill of ice and started sliding backwards.  We all jumped out and pushed the car up through the ice.  Why oh why did I stand directly behind the wheel??

Ms Betterhome

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2013, 04:17:24 PM »
Another Sydney commuter here! I work at a university that is serviced by its' own express bus from the Central railway station. On a good day, I can be door to door from home to office in an hour (including train and bus trips, plus a 10 minute walk at either end). On a bad day, it can take two hours or more ( factoring in train dramas and HUGE queues of students stretching around a city block that extend the wait for a bus up to 30 minutes).

 The area where we queue for the bus is completely exposed, so in mid winter we all stand in pouring rain if that's what's happening. Trying for a 9am start in mid semester is literally the worst... I need to allow two hours.

On a really bad day, I am stuck in a pack of 20 year old boys who smell of unwashed socks, whining about their assessments for the entire trip. The girls whine too, but don't smell bad, so noise-canceling headphones help there. I realised this is nowhere near the hazards of the NYC commute, but it still gets to me! Fortunately my employer is well aware of the general commuter hell, and is generally flexible about start times, and allows occasional 'work at home' days.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 04:22:33 PM by Ms Betterhome »

Richard3

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2013, 04:30:05 PM »
Well, there was the time I had a bike crash on my way home and had a head injury that resulting in me losing three months of memory (and having no short term memory for several hours). But I don't remember that so I am not sure it counts (the bit I do remember - waking up in the hospital and asking what date it was repeatedly was kind of funny and I had a cute intern doing the brain tests every hour or two so that was nice).

marty998

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2013, 08:04:15 PM »
Another Sydney commuter here! I work at a university that is serviced by its' own express bus from the Central railway station. On a good day, I can be door to door from home to office in an hour (including train and bus trips, plus a 10 minute walk at either end). On a bad day, it can take two hours or more ( factoring in train dramas and HUGE queues of students stretching around a city block that extend the wait for a bus up to 30 minutes).

 The area where we queue for the bus is completely exposed, so in mid winter we all stand in pouring rain if that's what's happening. Trying for a 9am start in mid semester is literally the worst... I need to allow two hours.

On a really bad day, I am stuck in a pack of 20 year old boys who smell of unwashed socks, whining about their assessments for the entire trip. The girls whine too, but don't smell bad, so noise-canceling headphones help there. I realised this is nowhere near the hazards of the NYC commute, but it still gets to me! Fortunately my employer is well aware of the general commuter hell, and is generally flexible about start times, and allows occasional 'work at home' days.

UNSW? I'm an alumni. Thankgod I don't have to do the old 9pm finish, rush for the 891, miss the connecting central train and stumble home in zombie state 2 & 1/2 hours later routine anymore.

Government made a massive mistake with the airport train line years ago. Should have kept going east from the airport to UNSW then turned North to Central. Extra 10 minute detour would have saved billions in commute times for more than 50,000 people.

Ms Betterhome

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2013, 09:12:51 PM »
Yes, UNSW! I agree re the airport line. We're promised light rail be 2016.

marty998

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2013, 04:37:53 PM »
Light rail by 2016? We've been promised the F6 since 1960 :)

melalvai

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2013, 07:22:22 AM »
My most memorable commute didn't take long at all. There was an enormous storm moving in. The wind was gusting mightily. At the stop light, I braced myself to keep my bike upright.
The light turned green.
I pedaled once.
A crazy gust of wind blew me to my left into the intersection. I was completely out of control. I landed in the sidewalk catty-cornered from where I started. My lunchbox hit the ground, but the bike & I stayed upright.
I looked up.
The road in front of me, that I had been heading for, had been clear a moment before. It was full of trees and limbs.

I picked my way through the debris. At home, there was a tree with its roots in one yard and the crown in the yard across the street.

A tornado had been sighted over the public school campus-- about 5 blocks from the intersection I'd been at.

I'd been pretty close to biking in a tornado!

SnackDog

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2013, 08:23:53 AM »
Tens of millions of people live with horrible commutes every day, most of them on trains or buses. Right behind our office is a filthy bus stop where people commute between the central city and a poor village about fifty km away. On a good day they are looking at a three hour trip each way. If they work 8-5, their day is 5-8. At least they can sleep on bus, if it is not too hot.

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2013, 10:54:39 PM »
Loved this whole thread.

I can't decide which of my horror stories is my worst commute. What do you guys think?

Experience 1) Bus commuting, almost double long bus. I'm sitting in the back playing my game boy. Guy sits in the row opposite me, drinking straight liquor hidden in a paperbag (could smell it). The guy mistakes me for another guy (I'm not, I'm a lesbian with ultra-short hair), starts screaming at me to stop checking him out. Guy starts attacking me. I run to the front of the bus, (as we are driving down the freeway) and get the bus driver to help. Have to call the police when we finally get to the next freeway stop

Experience 2) Bicycle commuting in winter, early morning, I head down the hill towards downtown seattle and my bike slides out from under me, and I went spinning down the rest of the hill on my ass, bike sliding next to me

Experience 3) Bicycle commuting - height of summer in utah (90+ degrees out). A mile into my 9 mile commute I run over a construction nail - punctures my tube AND totally ruins my tire. I'd forgotten my wallet that day = no money, no bus pass. Had to walk 8 miles home carrying my bike (didn't want to ruin the wheel)

Nothing as bad as the rest of these stories, though!

melalvai

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2013, 01:25:57 PM »
Loved this whole thread.

I can't decide which of my horror stories is my worst commute. What do you guys think?

Experience 1) Bus commuting, almost double long bus. I'm sitting in the back playing my game boy. Guy sits in the row opposite me, drinking straight liquor hidden in a paperbag (could smell it). The guy mistakes me for another guy (I'm not, I'm a lesbian with ultra-short hair), starts screaming at me to stop checking him out. Guy starts attacking me. I run to the front of the bus, (as we are driving down the freeway) and get the bus driver to help. Have to call the police when we finally get to the next freeway stop

Experience 2) Bicycle commuting in winter, early morning, I head down the hill towards downtown seattle and my bike slides out from under me, and I went spinning down the rest of the hill on my ass, bike sliding next to me

Experience 3) Bicycle commuting - height of summer in utah (90+ degrees out). A mile into my 9 mile commute I run over a construction nail - punctures my tube AND totally ruins my tire. I'd forgotten my wallet that day = no money, no bus pass. Had to walk 8 miles home carrying my bike (didn't want to ruin the wheel)

Nothing as bad as the rest of these stories, though!

I vote for #1, then #3. #2 sounds kind of fun. Like sledding with your bicycle! #1 is super scary. #3 is a royal pain, but not scary.

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2013, 06:18:56 PM »
One time my wife was stuck in traffic for 9 hours on the normally 30-45 minute commute home.  While she was pregnant.  8.5 months pregnant.  And without a cellphone to call home (I had to troubleshoot it that particular day).  She didn't want to walk down the icy slopes and pee in the woods, so almost soiled the seat she was sitting in, but kept thinking "we'll start moving soon".  For 9 hours.  She arrived home just before midnight.  I figured she was fine, but her family was EXTREMELY worried and called me every 30 minutes to see where she was.  I had her cell phone up and running the next day. 

The same day I had to take her brother back to his house.  2 hours to go 1/4 mile on the highway.  I finally ducked off the highway into a neighborhood and finished the rest of the 1.5 mile trip and then returned home successfully.  I would have abandoned my car and walked but my BIL was really nauseous and physically unable to walk. 

Half an inch of ice on the roads in the south SUCKS.   http://raleighskyline.com/content/2006/11/21/the-half-inch-of-snow-that-paralyzed-raleigh/


ScienceSexSavings

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #33 on: December 29, 2013, 10:48:23 AM »
I vote for #1, then #3. #2 sounds kind of fun. Like sledding with your bicycle! #1 is super scary. #3 is a royal pain, but not scary.

Agreed, #1 is by far the worst in my opinion. If I had to choose one of those to experience, #1 would be my absolute last choice.

Rollin

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #34 on: December 29, 2013, 01:31:09 PM »
Been commuting for 30 years by bike, car, bus, motorcycle, and even walked once.  No issues that I can remember.  I must be fortunate.

Very cool stories though - especially the first post from Marty998!
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 06:06:24 AM by Rollin »

marty998

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2013, 09:54:51 PM »
One time my wife was stuck in traffic for 9 hours on the normally 30-45 minute commute home.  While she was pregnant.  8.5 months pregnant.  And without a cellphone to call home (I had to troubleshoot it that particular day).  She didn't want to walk down the icy slopes and pee in the woods, so almost soiled the seat she was sitting in, but kept thinking "we'll start moving soon".  For 9 hours.  She arrived home just before midnight.  I figured she was fine, but her family was EXTREMELY worried and called me every 30 minutes to see where she was.  I had her cell phone up and running the next day. 


ohh thats tough. 9 hours is astonishing. Surely heads must roll for that debacle? Which traffic administration takes 9 hours to fix a freeway?

Paul der Krake

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #36 on: December 31, 2013, 07:58:31 AM »
One time my wife was stuck in traffic for 9 hours on the normally 30-45 minute commute home.  While she was pregnant.  8.5 months pregnant.  And without a cellphone to call home (I had to troubleshoot it that particular day).  She didn't want to walk down the icy slopes and pee in the woods, so almost soiled the seat she was sitting in, but kept thinking "we'll start moving soon".  For 9 hours.  She arrived home just before midnight.  I figured she was fine, but her family was EXTREMELY worried and called me every 30 minutes to see where she was.  I had her cell phone up and running the next day. 


ohh thats tough. 9 hours is astonishing. Surely heads must roll for that debacle? Which traffic administration takes 9 hours to fix a freeway?
Psha! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_National_Highway_110_traffic_jam

Root is right about southerners not knowing how to drive in adverse weather. Hell, as soon as moderately heavy rain hits the road, traffic in the Triangle drops 10-15 mph below regular speed... On the other hand, the lack of cold weather makes keeping old cars on the road a lot easier. I wouldn't dare to drive my rust bucket in the northeastern winter.

RootofGood

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #37 on: December 31, 2013, 08:49:08 AM »
One time my wife was stuck in traffic for 9 hours on the normally 30-45 minute commute home.  While she was pregnant.  8.5 months pregnant.  And without a cellphone to call home (I had to troubleshoot it that particular day).  She didn't want to walk down the icy slopes and pee in the woods, so almost soiled the seat she was sitting in, but kept thinking "we'll start moving soon".  For 9 hours.  She arrived home just before midnight.  I figured she was fine, but her family was EXTREMELY worried and called me every 30 minutes to see where she was.  I had her cell phone up and running the next day. 


ohh thats tough. 9 hours is astonishing. Surely heads must roll for that debacle? Which traffic administration takes 9 hours to fix a freeway?

The entire city was shut down.  All the arterial streets froze solid and the cars on the freeways had nowhere to go.  The exits were backed up due to blockages on the arterials.  It was honestly an unbelievable mess. 

The various road agencies have been hyper vigilant about brining/salting/sanding proactively since then if there is even a chance of frozen precip or ground accumulation.  So far so good. 

To be fair to us southerners, it's not a very good value proposition to spend tons of money on snowplows, salt domes, and sand piles that sit unused 360 days per year.  90% of the time we'll be fine with the limited resources we have.  10% of the time we make the news for not knowing how to deal with a winter storm. 

And I don't think anyone here uses winter tires.  It's all 4 season tires.  It also doesn't make sense to pay up for 4x4 capability on a car, since frozen precip happens so rarely, and schools and businesses close if there is any accumulation on the roads (a few times per year max). 

marty998

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #38 on: December 31, 2013, 04:44:52 PM »
I remember the news story of that China one! Quick minded "entrepreneurs" made a killing selling all sorts of necessities - fuel, food, water, blankets - by the roadside.

Times of crisis really do show true human nature, be it good or bad.

adam

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2014, 09:52:30 AM »
I drove 162 miles a day round trip, every day for two years. 1:45-2:00 hours each way on average.  One day there was an accident that shut down the only highway through the middle of nowhere and I didn't get home for 3.5 hours.  So that day I spent a minimum of 5 hours in the car for 8 hours of 'work'.

jba302

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #40 on: January 03, 2014, 07:40:39 AM »
My worst commute ever was last year when my company let everyone go home early because of the incoming blizzard. Unfortunately, they did this only after the blizzard had arrived, and it was extremely dangerous to drive. My normally 30 minute commute took over 3 hours.

I had one like this about 5 years ago in IL. Normally a 40 minute commute turned into 4 hours, but no spinouts because the average speed was 7 mph. Snow fell so quickly cars got stuck in the middle of the highway.

We also had a freak ice storm in MN a few years ago, I had to abandon my car because the minor hill was too icy to walk up, let alone drive. I had to crawl on the frozen grass to get out of there. And then walk several miles home.

Hunny156

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #41 on: January 03, 2014, 11:14:36 AM »
When I lived in NY and worked in CT - 65 mile commute one way.  Usually I could get it done in just over an hour each way.  I was still very new at my job, so I knew I had to suck it up and get to work even though there was a snowstorm coming.  Barely 3 hours later, the company wised up and sent everyone home.  It was too late though, there was enough snow on the ground to cause major traffic issues.

People from NY will know what a mess 684 is, and after 30 miles on that, I had another 30 miles on 84 to look forward to!  684 lived up to it's usual traffic issues, multiplied by 6.  It got so cold outside, and we were moving so slowly, that the precip hitting the windshield would immediately ice up, even w/the defrost on full blast.  I also discovered on this trip that the Prius windshield design sucks, b/c I had snow buildup UNDER the trim, to the point that the wipers were suspended above the windshield!  I had to pull over twice to clean the snow out from under the windshield trim, scrape ice off the windshield so I could actually see, and then navigate my way back into traffic w/out skidding all over the place.

At least 84 wasn't too bad, once I finally made it there.  The total trip home took me close to 6 hours.  At the time, I rationalized that it was worth it, b/c I owned a house in the country instead of an overpriced condo closer to Westchester.  We moved south 4 years ago, and I left that ridiculous commute crap behind.  SOOO much better now!

the fixer

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #42 on: January 03, 2014, 12:24:31 PM »
I remember the news story of that China one! Quick minded "entrepreneurs" made a killing selling all sorts of necessities - fuel, food, water, blankets - by the roadside.

Times of crisis really do show true human nature, be it good or bad.

All this reveals of human nature is our distrust of economics in times of extreme scarcity. But to me it makes perfect sense.

If I had blankets to sell and chose not to go to the roadside at all, would I be a better person? The fact that any were sold shows there was a demand for the goods, and to deprive people of them seems less moral to me. In fact, the law of supply suggests that the more people who showed up with stuff to sell, the lower the prices would get! By going, I would help to push down prices for all and benefit buyers.

If I do go to the roadside, what price do I set for my blankets? If I tried to be generous and sold them at the same price I paid (or gave them away), presumably I would run out of them quickly. The end result is my goods get distributed based mostly on random chance or some arbitrary skill (ability to get to me first). How is that in any way fair?

[I have in the past sold stuff at below-market price, seen this happen, and felt bad on behalf of all the other people who wanted what I had to sell but couldn't get it in time. In one case I sold an expense piece of recreational equipment to someone who already had one and just wanted it for spare parts. He beat others to it, who might have actually wanted to use it for its intended purpose.]

It's not perfect, but I would argue that the fairest mechanism available to distribute my goods is by setting the highest price I can that still allows me to sell all of my inventory. The only better way would be if I were somehow able to tell in advance who was going to be most miserable that night based on existing clothing, medical conditions, etc. but this is easier said than done. If I changed this example to use food or fuel, telling who was most in need would be even more difficult. Who is most in need of gas to get home? Who is most hungry? Having people use their currency to settle these questions is far more efficient than anything else one could come up with on-the-spot to make these choices.

Rollin

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2014, 01:04:32 PM »
I remember the news story of that China one! Quick minded "entrepreneurs" made a killing selling all sorts of necessities - fuel, food, water, blankets - by the roadside.

Times of crisis really do show true human nature, be it good or bad.

All this reveals of human nature is our distrust of economics in times of extreme scarcity. But to me it makes perfect sense.

If I had blankets to sell and chose not to go to the roadside at all, would I be a better person? The fact that any were sold shows there was a demand for the goods, and to deprive people of them seems less moral to me. In fact, the law of supply suggests that the more people who showed up with stuff to sell, the lower the prices would get! By going, I would help to push down prices for all and benefit buyers.

If I do go to the roadside, what price do I set for my blankets? If I tried to be generous and sold them at the same price I paid (or gave them away), presumably I would run out of them quickly. The end result is my goods get distributed based mostly on random chance or some arbitrary skill (ability to get to me first). How is that in any way fair?

[I have in the past sold stuff at below-market price, seen this happen, and felt bad on behalf of all the other people who wanted what I had to sell but couldn't get it in time. In one case I sold an expense piece of recreational equipment to someone who already had one and just wanted it for spare parts. He beat others to it, who might have actually wanted to use it for its intended purpose.]

It's not perfect, but I would argue that the fairest mechanism available to distribute my goods is by setting the highest price I can that still allows me to sell all of my inventory. The only better way would be if I were somehow able to tell in advance who was going to be most miserable that night based on existing clothing, medical conditions, etc. but this is easier said than done. If I changed this example to use food or fuel, telling who was most in need would be even more difficult. Who is most in need of gas to get home? Who is most hungry? Having people use their currency to settle these questions is far more efficient than anything else one could come up with on-the-spot to make these choices.

You sure do think things through :)  Seems overly complicated though.  During hurricanes here in FLA we have local laws that protect against price gouging.  Based upon what you said you may disagree with that, but I do not.

fodder69

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2014, 01:27:03 PM »
Quote
the fairest mechanism available to distribute my goods is by setting the highest price I can that still allows me to sell all of my inventory. The only better way...

What does their being able to pay the highest price have to do with their being the neediest? Seems really arbitrary and kinds of sounds awfully like rationalization. Price it according to what you can get (and below a level that would be gouging) but don't tell me you are doing it for the greater good.

I don't actually disagree with your actions in your post just your reasoning behind it. And I totally agree with the part about under pricing. I tend to do that with things on ebay and craigslist because I want to move them quicker and 2 of the last 3 things I sold people were basically just using them for parts.

nawhite

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #45 on: January 03, 2014, 03:08:18 PM »
During hurricanes here in FLA we have local laws that protect against price gouging.  Based upon what you said you may disagree with that, but I do not.

I'm always conflicted by these laws. The result is always that stations run out of gas because more people want gas than there is gas available. Even if you limit the amount people can buy (i.e. 2 gallons / person max) then you end up with people just going round and round every 10 minutes to buy another 2 gallons or getting everyone in their family to buy 2 gallons until all the gas is gone. What does setting a price ceiling accomplish for all the people who are unable to get to the station fast enough to get some of the very limited resource. If the price could climb to $15/gallon, people would think long and hard about whether or not they really NEEDED more gas before buying it up while it was cheap and available.

marty998

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #46 on: January 03, 2014, 04:08:43 PM »
We have laws against price gouging, but that doesn't stop petrol companies from taking us for a ride. (Hello 20c/litre increase over new years).


It's not perfect, but I would argue that the fairest mechanism available to distribute my goods is by setting the highest price I can that still allows me to sell all of my inventory. The only better way would be if I were somehow able to tell in advance who was going to be most miserable that night based on existing clothing, medical conditions, etc. but this is easier said than done. If I changed this example to use food or fuel, telling who was most in need would be even more difficult. Who is most in need of gas to get home? Who is most hungry? Having people use their currency to settle these questions is far more efficient than anything else one could come up with on-the-spot to make these choices.

To me it's not a question of making a choice of who is deserving. Obviously you can't assist everyone but if someone is in obvious need of help then profiting excessively from their misery seems pretty ordinary to me. I'm not anti-capitalist, but greed is not good in all cases.

The best illustration I can give is when Brisbane flooded a couple years ago. The next day, 6000 volunteers turned up to the worst affected suburbs with a mop and a bucket each to help clean up random total strangers houses for free. The city council had to turn people away because so many wanted to help.

Yes there might be a few bad apple tradies charging a premium to fix wiring, plumbing etc here and there but on the whole the Australian response to various disasters (bushfires especially) is something many parts of the world could learn from.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 04:10:27 PM by marty998 »

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #47 on: January 03, 2014, 06:29:50 PM »
Yes there might be a few bad apple tradies charging a premium to fix wiring, plumbing etc here and there but on the whole the Australian response to various disasters (bushfires especially) is something many parts of the world could learn from.

Charging a premium for skilled trades after a major disaster seems like a valuable market based reaction to temporarily increase the supply of skilled labor.  Any time a big hurricane strikes in the US, there's an instant caravan of skilled tradesmen who are looking to make a buck and mobilize to the worst hit areas.  Maybe you pay double the pre-disaster going rate, but you can get quick access to labor that wouldn't otherwise be available.  The labor is induced by price signals (what some might call "gouging") to move to the areas of highest demand.

And in the case of itinerant laborers, they may actually have extraordinarily high operating costs.  Driving hundreds of miles to a disaster area, camping out (literally, or in a hotel), and dealing with poor supply chains once they are on the ground can all drive up the tradesman's cost of doing business.  Higher inputs means higher costs to the consumer (what some might call "gouging").

tariskat

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #48 on: January 05, 2014, 10:35:58 AM »
I studied abroad in the Netherlands 2 years ago.  The day I was moving back, I was up at 5:30 ish to pack up last minute toiletries, eat breakfast, etc., and caught the 6:30 bus.  I walked maybe half a mile dragging my huge suitcase, plus two backpacks, in the rain, and the bus of course was several minutes late.  At the bus-to-train transfer station, I had to drag all my sh** up a flight of stairs, across the railway, and down a flight of stairs (a nice man kindly carried my big suitcase up the stairs, though, woo!).  The stairs were designed for heavy outdoor use, so was the thick metal stabby kind of steps, which chewed the wheels off my suitcase - oh well, last day, not a big deal if it drags instead of rolls now.

Half way to the airport, something happened to one of the lines, so we had to catch a new train instead of just staying on the current one.  So then I find a new platform and wait 20 minutes for that train.  Catch the new train; get off at a station well north of the airport, go up 3 or 4 flights of stairs outdoors where it's still raining and there wasn't always a roof to catch another train.  Turns out that wasn't the correct train - go back down a flight to a different platform.  A bunch of us are travelling to the airport for a trip, so we're loaded with luggage, and we don't always speak the same language, so it was very interesting trying to crowd-source the proper train to catch (the first conductor mistakenly directed us to the fourth level platform, but THAT conductor got us sorted). Since so many of us were rerouted, the trains are jammed with regular commuters as well as more travelers with suitcases, so it's nice and hot in the train, I have no idea where I am, and my shoulders are burning from my backpack (2 laptops, what was I thinking??).

Ultimately, I was soaked for ~2.5 hours (should have < 1 hour) of transit (eventually dried out while sitting at my gate), and saw some more countryside, from what should have been a very simple trip back to the airport.  It was definitely the worst travelling experience I had in the country, which was and still is hilarious to me.  It had started raining the night before (I went to a friend's house for dinner) and I biked back in the rain and it just never stopped. 
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 10:37:54 AM by manner »

SnackDog

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Re: Commuting horror stories
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2014, 03:24:10 AM »
People still joke that one day the 610 Freeway "Loop" around Houston will back up all the way around (61 km) forming a massive traffic jam.