Saturday, July 29, 2006

RBP Goes To Philly

My first impression of Philadelphia was - why don't all the escalators in the E terminal of the airport work? To be fair, the airport is undergoing a what appears to be a major rennovation so one can assume that it's not always like that. Also, I've never recieved my checked baggage at the baggage claim as quickly as I did when I arrived. It was there on the caurosel waiting for me when I walked up which has never happened to me before. So things weren't all bad.

Being from the dirtysouth, things like mass transit, specifically trains that take you everywhere around a city including from the airport to downtown are new to me. My original plan was to take a cab to my downtown hotel. But after seeing the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth, I decided to do the more environmentally friendly thing and take the train downtown. The E terminal is the last/first stop for the SEPTA train. There's one sitting there with doors open. I look around for a ticket window or a token machine - nothing. There are what appear to be transit workers milling about, one actually sitting down reading the paper. Despite my confused look, no one ask me if I need help. Another confused guy is standing on the platform so for some reason I asked him "is this the train to center city?"

"This one's going to Glenside." He looks annoyed at me. But I know something he doesn't know. I have inside information. My gracious host Rose, of anonymousrowhouse fame has sent me the schedule with all the train stops through email. I recognize the name Glenside as being the end of the line. Sucker! I thought as I got on the train as that guy just stood there paralyzed by his own ignorance while the other more knowing commuters hustled on board. And then I remembered Rose told me I could just pay the conductor. Ha! I thought, country mouse is doing just fine in the big city. And it wasn't even that crowded. Man this is easy I thought. What I didn't know was there were three more stops to go just at the airport alone. Each one adding more and more harried commuters. So my cockiness was short lived. Little old ladies looked at me like they were going to stab me with a shiv if I didn't move my fucking suitcase and put it on the overhead luggage rack so they could sit down. The train was airconditioned but I was starting to sweat.

It got worse. After we left the airport, we pulled into the first stop and NO ANNOUNCEMENT! I knew I was looking for Suburban Station but what if they don't announce it? What if I miss my stop and end up in some really dangerous part of town. Full of little old ladies with shivs and menacing stares. More people kept getting on. Sweating profusely. The conductors heading my way. Oh shit what station do I need to get off on? Do I have to have correct change? What stop are we coming up on? Where's my wallet? Shit shit shit. Country mouse not so cocky anymore.

I manage to pay the fare and get off at Suburban Station. Stepping into an underground labyrinth of stifling heat and big city pathos. None of these people can be bothered, I thought as I looked around at the throngs of people on the multiple platforms. Darting around like army ants with one mission and that's to go somewhere else. I thought of the movie The Matrix and what that vast underground city must feel like. It must feel like Suburban Station. A single question remains.

Where the hell is Justrose?

*to be continued*