I have recently realized that I have incidentally rendered myself incapable of reading an actual book. Since 2010 I have read almost exclusively on my Kindle. For the past two years I have used a PaperWhite with a touchscreen (I just tap the screen to turn the page). Recently I have started reading a hard copy of my bible as trying to flip back and forth between various references is a pain on my Kindle. What I have found is that I will sit there and unconsciously tap the page as I near the end of it, and then I wonder why the page won’t change so I tap it again. It takes me two or three taps before I realize that I’m reading an actual book and have to physically turn the page… Ughhh, why is life so hard.
I was in Durham the first half of the week and originally scheduled to fly back home via Atlanta on Wednesday evening. Atlanta is my preferred point of transfer because my flights out of there are rarely late and I have yet to miss a connection (also, they have Chickfila)… until Wednesday. To be fair, since I did not wind up going through Atlanta I can still say I have not missed a connection there. I finished the work I had to do on site a bit early so I went and had a late and long lunch before I headed over to the airport at 1500 for my 1725 flight. While in the airport my flight into Atlanta got delayed 30 minutes (with more delays an almost certainty as the flight still hadn’t even left Atlanta for RDU) virtually assuring that I would miss my connection to Albany. I went to the desk and told the lady that there should be a 1650 flight to Detroit that would allow me to make a different connection to Albany and still arrive around the same time. “Wow,” she said, “you know more than I do.” What can I say; I like to be aware of my options when booking my flights. Unfortunately the flight into Detroit was oversold… “Well,” I asked, “Can you get me into JFK? I can take a train from there to Albany.”
While I have never taken the train from Penn Station (NYC) to Albany I assumed it would not be that difficult to do so. Of course, it would first require that I get from JFK to Penn Station. While on my flight I found that there was a train that left Penn Station at 1915, the next train was not until 2115; seeing as my flight was scheduled to land at 1815 I figured I would have enough time to make it to Penn Station in time for the 1915 train. Fortunately, the gentleman who sat next to me knew exactly how to get from JFK to Penn Station; I was also fortunate that it was not a complicated process… or maybe it was. First I had to leave the airport where I then caught the AirTrain to Jamaica station. Once exiting the train I had to find a kiosk, obtain a metro card, and pay for the ride I just took. Then I had to hoof it over to the next terminal, find a Long Island Railroad ticket kiosk and then buy a ticket to Penn Station. I had to do all of this by 1845 in order to catch the last LIRR train to arrive at Penn Station prior to the 1915 departure of the Amtrak train to Albany.
I was able to use the 22 minutes I had on the LIRR train ride to get online (on my phone) and buy the Amtrak ticket I need. Thank goodness I did because I rolled into Penn Station at 1907 and frantically began searching for the Amtrak terminal. Finding the Amtrak ticketing desk I asked for directions and was pointed in the right general direction with the importation that I should hurry because my train was leaving in four minutes (I know this lady, just give me directions already!). I hurried around the loop and down the escalator where I was presented the option of eight different tracks and no idea which one my train was on… Spotting a “Departures” sign as I ran down the line I spied Albany and saw I needed to be on track 6W. Following the arrows to tracks 3-6, I was dismayed to find that I had gone too far and bypassed track 6W. As I turned around a gentleman asked where I was headed and he told me I had just passed track 6. Going back the other direction, I was fortunate that he kept watching me because I again walked right past the door for track 6… seriously, this door was more difficult to find than the one to track 9¾. Finally locating the door I raced down the stairs and managed to flag down the ticket inspector who held the door open for me and guided me to a seat just as the train began moving.
If you got stressed out just reading this account… well, you don’t know the half of it. I’m not certain that I set any travel records on Wednesday but I probably came very close, only bested by someone who had actually made that trip before and knew exactly what to do. Let’s just say that, even for someone experienced with public transportation (although I do not know how representative MARTA is of public transportation in the US) the NY train system was not exactly intuitive. Of course my trip did not really end at the Amtrak station in Albany, from there I had to take a cab to the airport and pickup my truck which I was then able to take home, but that stuff was easy compared to what I had just gone through.