An Open Letter to the MTA
But no. Like so many times before, I put my faith in your system, only to have it slap me in the face. First, I got on the F train. On a normal evening, were the trains operating properly, I would have taken a quick little 10 minute trip on the F and then transferred to the G for another leisurely 20 minute ride, then back to my home, safe and snug.
The F was working fine. The train arrived within 5 minutes of my station entry time, 10:30. I took my 10 minute trip and left the train at the Smith-9 Street station. I have spent enough time in the city dealing with the often ludicrously deranged subway schedules to know that 11, i.e. “late night”, is the point when one needs to start worrying. But I was fine, right? It was only 10:40!
Not so. I left the train and stood in the station. One F train came by. Then another. Then a construction car. Then another F train. I started to suspect that something was wrong, and I looked up at the wall of the station to see if any advisories were posted. Nothing. I walked to the center of the station, and finally found a solitary piece of 8 ½ X 11 paper haphazardly taped up, advising that the G service would not be running at the 7th Ave. station after 11:00. No announcements were made. No human voice instructed me on what to do. If I were illiterate, I would have been fucked. Thankfully, I was not educated in the New York City public school system, so I knew how to read the single, nearly-hidden sign.
“Take the F to the A,” the sign instructed, “and then transfer to the G!” Simple as pie, it seemed. So this is what I did. I took the F to Jay Street, as the sign instructed, left the train, transferred to the A, which arrived rather quickly, and then transferred again at Hoyt Schemerhorn. By this time, it was 11:25. “No worries,” I thought to myself, “20 more minutes on the G, and I’ll be home!”
But you couldn’t make it that easy for me, could you? No, you bastards. I waited another 15 minutes for the G train, while an unsanitary looking man berated me and my fellow passengers for not paying enough attention to the expiration dates on our milk cartons.
At 11:40, the G train arrived, and I cheered to myself. I was still happy. Hungry, because I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and full of urine, because I had a couple of beers in Park Slope, but happy, nonetheless.
Did you see my happiness? Did one of your spies, those mysterious 20 “workers” in yellow boots and orange vests who are, without fail, taking up all the seats in the station, did one of these people recognize my happiness and phone it in to MTA Central? Someone must have alerted someone, because the train stalled in the station. “This train will be delayed for 7 minutes,” said the conductor. “Last stop will be Bedford-Nostrand.”
4 stops. 4 fucking stops. And then what? Would I have to take a shuttle bus another stop, transfer to another train, then to a taxi, then to a catamaran? “No way,” I said to myself. “I’m going to money town. I’m taking the next train to Manhattan, where the subway runs like clockwork.”
And that’s what I did. Took the A all the way up to 14th Street, then to the L, then to a bus, and finally, at 1:00, I walked in the door of my apartment.
There was a time, back when I was fresh to New York, when I would have laughed off this imposition as a normal old night in the crazy Big City. Not any longer. Time, my friends, is money. And judging by my freelance wages, my time is worth $20/hour. (It’s actually worth more than that, but that is not entirely your fault.
Again, being generous, a normal train trip would have taken 45 minutes. Right there, that’s 1 hour and 45 minutes of time you owe me, or $35. Being fair, we should add in some incidentals. For instance, I was planning on quitting smoking tonight. For all intents and purposes, I had smoked my last cigarette in Park Slope. But when I finally got off the train, I was so upset, I fell back on my vice & bought a $7.50 pack of cigarettes. Now, I realize I can’t blame you for that entire fee, but I can at least charge you the $4 of that $7.50 that I wouldn’t be paying if I lived in any other city. Don’t ask me why; it just feels fair.
Likewise, I was featured in the background of an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy this evening, which I ended up missing because of your awful service. I don’t know that I’ll ever catch it again. That could very well have been my only 15 minutes of fame. How much did Kato Kaelin make off of the O.J. trial? Or Clara Peller from the “Where’s the Beef” ads? Now, I don’t claim to have reached the pinnacle of success that these two enjoyed, but we need some sort of yardstick, you understand. Let’s say that my 15 minutes were worth about .01% of that figure, and that they made, oh, a mill apiece, conservatively. That’s another $100.
So now we’re up to $139. Now, I’m starting to recall that there was a big hubbub about a year ago when it was revealed that the alleged MTA deficit was actually a surplus. You thought we’d forgotten about that, didn’t you? No sir. Maybe you’ve forgotten. Here’s an article about it to jog your memory: fare sham. I remember the day that my co-workers and I found out about the surplus, and we rejoiced, thinking that the fare hikes couldn’t possibly go up now. Well, you raised the fares, anyway. That was one year ago. Figuring that the monthly card, which I buy to save money, now costs me $8 more per month than it should, you owe me one year at $8/month, or $96.
Grand total, again, being extremely generous to you, is $235.
Please pay immediately to avoid late charges.
this is in or around New York