Friday, November 05, 2004

love/hate penn station

if you have ever been to penn station in nyc, you have probably looked about and thought, "whose idea was this stinkhole?"
penn station is one of the most depressing feeling places in this great city,

we interrupt this post for a mini hershey chocolate bar. mmmmmmmm soooo deeeelisshhhousssss!

highlighted by the ultra-low ceilings in the hallway, the stale, stanky-ass smell, the lack of any kind of natural light (we all look so fabulous under those fluorescent tubes) and the disorganized chaos that occurs twice daily as people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to catch their trains.

to reach the Amtrak part of the station, you have to walk up a steep set of stairs, past a baskin robbins (mmmmmm sorbet...). the atmosphere in this hallway is noticeably different because they have piped in classical music over the loud speakers. this immediately puts me at a sense of ease, which is greatly deceptive because of all the crap you have to go through to buy your ticket and get on the train.

i went to penn station this week as a favor to my boss, he needed a refund on a ticket he never used and i told him i would go if i could get a paid lunch hour (like i ever actually clock-out at lunch anyway, but hey i was feeling nice). so i walk down the hallway of bach and enter the main area of the station, people are milling around, waiting and anxiously staring at the large screen whose numbers flash and tell you which track you train is leaving from. here is the funny part, they don't tell you which track until like 2 minutes before departure time, so everyone is on edge, ready to bolt to the correct escalator when the announcement is made. this mad dash usually involves people being flung to the ground, fingers crushed, rolling suitcases being stumbled over, pushing, shoving and a general crush around the narrow entryway to the tracks below. hey- it’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye.

multiply this by 20 thousand during the holidays.

so anyway, i'm waiting in line on Monday, November 1st, to get credit for this ticket, i'm trying to enjoy the Beethoven and laughing at the mad-dashers to the tracks. its almost 2pm and the line is loooo-ong. because there is ONE person, ONE!! its a good thing i don't have a train to catch or i might look like the person behind me, or the person in front of me, or the person behind the person behind me. everyone is pissed and in general agreement that Amtrak sucks monkeyballs. i get up to the counter and ask for my refund, the woman smiles (god bless 'er) and says "are you aware of our new policies regarding refunds?" and i'm like "huh?" and she says that they now charge 10% to credit back any unused tickets, this policy went into effect- November 1st! of course it did! whatever, i don't care, it’s not my money. i smile sweetly at her and tell her to go ahead and take out the $10.60 and use it to get her nails done for all i care- just get me outta here fast!

she finishes the transaction, and is very polite, despite the obvious stress in her job- she is, after all, the only person people can yell at because of sucky Amtrak. i flash her the peace sign as i scamper away, running down the hallway to get back to civilization. as i pass the flower stand with it surprisingly limited display of flowers, i am immediately reminded of labor day weekend, 2002.

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