Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How could you not know that!?

This past weekend the evil overlords of the MTA decided the L-train would not be running to my stop.  Shuttle buses would be provided.

Okedokey, I've done this, I know how this works.

I'm on the street corner brushed and polished toting my bag o'tricks at 7:45am. Saturday mind you. 7:45am.

There are 20 people waiting with me.  FIVE shuttle buses roll by before one comes that has any squeeze-in room at all.  I get on, hang from the ceiling with my special Spider-Man shark gloves and off we go.

At the end of the line, the bus stops.  A few people sort of start to get off but a lot just stand in the doorway.  I say "This is the end of the line. Get off the bus."  My tone might be three shades on the wrong side of "how the hell can you NOT know this." Obviously, the bus is at the Lorimer stop, and this is where the train starts running again. It's always like this.

We all clamber off, dive down the subway stairs, get on the train.  It's nowhere near packed (which gives you an idea of how many people take the train: five busloads of people and the trains feel almost empty.)

The train doors close, and off we go.

At the very next stop, I see a train across the platform. Aha! I know this trick. The train on the other side goes back and forth to Manhattan, while the train on my side shuttles between Lorimer and Bedford.  I remember this from the last time we did this little dance.

So I face the doors, and when they open, I leap out, zip across the platform, grab an empty seat and pat myself on the back for being such a smart, savvy New York train rider.  Yes oh yes, I am the cat's jammies AND a bag of chips.

Except the train I'm now on doesn't move. The doors don't close. No one else is getting ON this train.

And across the platform, on the train I just exited comes the recorded announcement "Next stop Manhattan."

And I watch the train pull out of the station in the direction I want to be going.

Sharks!  I leap off the train.
The train I've just exited closes its doors and heads off in the direction I don't want to go.

I sit on the platform for about three minutes before it dawns on me that I am now waiting for the train I just exited.  It will go one stop, and then reverse direction. Only one track is functional at the Lorimer stop. When it comes back to the station where I'm now sitting, it will be full of the people who got off the next round of shuttle buses.  If I'd simply stayed on that train, I'd have a seat.

How could I not have known that?

I could almost hear God laughing at the very sharp lesson in hubris I'd needed AGAIN.  Those folks on the bus at the last shuttle stop would never know it but man I felt bad for that tone of voice I'd used.

And as always this is a reminder to me that things I think are obvious (how to query, how publishing works or doesn't, how to format a manuscript) are not all that obvious until you've tried doing it a couple times.  And even then, sometimes you can outsmart yourself.

Have you learned any lessons repeatedly?


Anonymous said...

Have you learned any lessons repeatedly?

Unfortunately. I'm a runner. The rule of running when building miles is no more than 10% increase per week of overall mileage. Most who do more than that end up injured. I know that, but sometimes ignored the rule when training for a road race. And I've paid for it with double stress fx's, runner's knee and plantar fasciitis.

And then there's cooking while writing. A big no no in my house. Because I have forgotten multiple times what's on the stove. When the smell of charred whatever wafts upstairs where I'm madly pecking away...that's when I remember.

There's more. But at the risk of sounding like a complete fool, I'll stop there.

Sarah W said...

As someone who recently bought a coffee-colored top so the spillage wouldn't show . . . yes, but it was probably the wrong lesson.

Christine Monson said...

Don't drink an entire cup of coffee right before hiking. Somehow, I always forget this lesson until I'm standing in the middle of a long, long hiking trail wondering if I can make it back to the restroom at the beginning of the trailhead in time.

Jane | @janelebak said...

That when I think the other person is acting unreasonable, that's when I need to get a much stronger grip on myself because I'm about to go off like Vesuvius. Hard one to implement because by the time I realize it, everyone's already very reactive.

Your post made me miss the L line. :-( I rode it in high school when it was still the LL, every day from Rockaway Parkway to Union Square.

Artemis Grey said...

I second the cooking while writing thing. I will never figure that one out, apparently.

I also fall into the 'check it out' trap repeatedly. Wherein Famous Person X who's never mentioned an interest in writing, and writes nothing I would ever normally look at, announces that their book will be published. Now, there is no reason for me to even check this book out, no matter how many rave reviews it gets. I don't like Famous Person X, I'm not interested in the subject of their book. It's not the genre I read or write on a regular basis. Yet I will invariably pick up Famous Person X's new book. And then be frustrated it got published just because they're famous and a worthy risk to publishers while I'm not (if it sucks) or frustrated that they call themselves the author (if a 'real' author helped them ghost write it) or otherwise irritated. And every single time, I realize I brought it on myself by looking in the first place. Yet the next time a Famous Person X announces they have decided to become an author, I will swear not to look, and then look anyhow.

Colin Smith said...

"Social media is a huge distraction and time suck when you are feverishly trying to edit your ms for beta reading. You want people to be beta reading this before Christmas, don't you? So leave the Internet alone. Walk away from the browser. Just don't do it. Don't..."

Goes to Twitter...

Rob Brunet said...

My son, all of 15, said this to me after hearing me use "that tone" while declining extended warranty protection for his new smartphone:

"Know what occurred to me the other night, Dad? I don't have to prove I am right. I just have to know I am right."

Love when the kid teaches me things I should've taught him.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I am at the age where I’m thinking I have learned from all my repeated blundering to not repeat them again. That in itself is a repeated lesson.

Which means, I am at the age where I have forgotten so many repeated lessons, I am now repeating them.

I think I shall post my remarks on FB today even though imparting my wisdom to the masses may provide an even greater lesson learned, to think before I hit enter.

Anonymous said...

The rule: when I get used to a schedule, it will change. The moral: don't get comfortable.

Shaunna said...

The lesson I seem to have to learn repeatedly is to keep my mouth shut. Like your illustrious sharkness, when I find myself criticizing strangers or friends alike, I can be fairly certain that I will soon find myself in their shoes, figuratively speaking. Therefore, the best way for me to avoid a taste of their challenges is to keep my mouth shut and deal with my own.

SiSi said...

Every September, I learn a lesson similar to the one you learned on the train--don't assume that just because everything on the syllabus and assignment sheet is clear to me that it will also be clear to the students. Be patient with them--they're 19-20 years old, and (at this point in the semester) aren't trying to drive me crazy, they're just worried about doing something wrong.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. I can't tell you how many times I think I'm johnny expert one moment and then the next I realize I'm the idiot. Agree - it's nice to have a shot of humble pie every once in a while!

Anonymous said...

That's happened to me a couple of times.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

You mean like, "Don't point the yogurt toward you while peeling off the top?" Nope. Not me. I never make the same mistake twice.

*wipes shirt down with a damp napkin*

Katie New said...

It might be true that every time I give advice, whether it's give your child a milkshake so you can get things done, or use preparation H on bug bites, my advice comes back to bite me. Like, the milkshake splatters everywhere, creating more work for me, or my bug bite concoction makes my child break out in a rash.

Each time I say I'm not giving out advice anymore, and then I go and do it again. A sort of Dear Abbey meets Bridget Jones comedy, only I'm not laughing. Well, maybe just a little...

Amy Schaefer said...

That's funny - I actually posted a similar story today, too. Things change, and whenever I think I've picked up life's pattern, a piece moves. The key is laughing it off and seeing it as part of the fun.

I'm reminded of a Billy Connoly bit: "We want this and that. We demand a share in that and most of that. Some of this and fuckin' all of that. Less of that and more of this and fuckin' plenty of this. 'Nuther thing! We want it now! I want it yesterday, I want fuckin' more tomorrow. And the demands will all be changed then, so fuckin' stay awake."

That's life: the demands will all be changed then, so fuckin' stay awake. Get right with that idea and it will all work out.

LynnRodz said...

I'm on holiday still and with limited access to the internet so I won't go into a long lesson, but karma is a bitch at times! What I really want to say is, Janet, you definitely need to consider writing! Your post was so vivid, I was with you all the way on your bus/train ride - frustrations and all!!!

austexgrl said...

Yes... never write an angry email to your boyfriend after two glasses of white wine..... or to your Mother!