Friday, August 22, 2008

The Best Commute of the Year.

Starring down the barrel of a 10 day stretch of no work or commutes. Yee F-ing Haa!

It's Friday and my final ACF ride before transforming into the dreaded Tourista. Tommorrow's early morning flight will be full of panicked hysteria until arriving on a white sandy beach with a frosty beverage in hand. Then a long anticipated abscence of the daily grind, and the freedom from clocks and schedules.

Craving that blissfull foggy feeling of not knowing, or caring what day it is.

Keep the hate alive fellow ACF compadres.

A tiny ray of tidyness, in the filthy of filthy.

I've never seen anything like it before. They are the freshest moves that have ever existed.

Feather Duster Man of Port Authority, is and always will be the smoothest man on the planet. Let me set the stage, the Port Authority Bus Terminal is the most vile repulsive public place in Manhattan. Winning the title of both physical filth and the type of people it attracts, myself included. In this blinding sea of scum exists FDM, Feather Duster Man. He is a tall lanky proud janitor that cleans the escalators leading down to the 7th ring pf hell, the basement bowels of the Port Authority.

He does it with such grace and beauty, it's as if he's floating on air. I wait in line to board the ACF mesmerized as FDM rides up and down the escalators cleaning and greeting all it's riders with a smile, a "yo it's almost over you'll be home soon" or a fist bump to the regulars.

The few times I catch the late bus at 11pm, I have witnessed FDM in his street clothes at the end of his shift. He is impeccably dressed in head to toe matching Louis Vuitton patterned sweat suit. Usually saying good night to the Bus Drivers. Always with a smile and a 1970's across 110th street strut. I think I can hear Curtis Mayfield playing over the PA as he ascends the escalator out of sight.

I'm yo pusha man.

Enjoy the tune of the last link, it's one the all time greats. And imagine FDM.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hella Rad

Just kick ass fun.

Go for the Bronze! ACF as a Legacy for Your Son.

At my stop in NJ, waiting the 10 or 12 minutes before the chariot picks me up, there is a guy who is always 1st in line. We've made small talk a few times, he rides motorcycles so we have that in common.

A few weeks ago he started bringing his 18 year old son, and showing the recent high school grad the ropes of the ACF. The Dad told me he's doing a paid internship at his office as an IT guy like himself. I think I've stumbled upon an example of the "digital working class"

I'm not sure if this disturbs me or not? Makes me think and wonder what I would do in the same situation.

A few months ago we saw each other out of the daily ACF context, and exchanged "heys" while leaving the Red Lobster.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Going Home; The Hardcore Commuter & The Oblvious Touristas.

In the morning this is not an issue, only on the evening haul home.

The Tourista; almost always from Scranton PA, usually the blue-haired crowd of ladies going to the big city to see some insipid Bdwy play. This variety cackles and giggles about how amazing the Lion King or other drivel is. The ladies routinely jabber more and louder from that extra glass of pink wine they had at the most fabulous Olive Garden in mid-town.

The over-tired cranky family; I'd take the above mentioned geriatric gang over this bunch any day. Dad would have preferred freezing his balls off in a deer stand than being in NYC with the old lady and whiny rug rats. Mom never shuts up barking the most obvious orders at the brats and the Bambi killer. The kids never sit still and have to play with their over priced American Girl crap, or the boys bickering on how to better kill your enemy on their PSP.

All the while us regular commuters curse them under our breath, and tell ourselves how my Spouse, Kid, Parent, or Grandparent would never behave like these socially retarded freaks going into NYC for a fun-filled day.

But deep down inside we'd be no different.

ACF vs. Car.

Yesterday was a rare no bus workday. Was not a slave to the Bus company's schedule. I drove my car into work yesterday, the personal car trip to Manhattan always starts out great, you can drive over 72mph and not have listen to an annoying buzzer.

The car commute taunts you and deceives you. The first 95 percent of the drive is great, no sitting next to smelly, snoring slobs. But then you hit that last 5 percent of the journey, "the tunnel". The 3 miles before the tunnel in Secaucus is stopped and it robs you of all that time you think you have saved, and then actually inside the tunnel you crawl slower than a brisk walking pace.

The entire time you are watching a constant stream of ACFs in their own cozy lane blasting past you all the way from the stench that is Secaucus and right on through the tunnel named after the great emancipator.

Buses are created more equal than cars.

That last 5% of distance usually equates to 4o or 50 % of your commute time. An equation that creates the "perfect storm" for frustration, and the leading factor that triggers road rage.

Monday, August 18, 2008

CA in NJ working in NYC

Having lived my first 35 years in the SoCal/LA area, I know what traffic/commuting is all about. The NYC metro area does not come anywhere close to the insanity the average Angeleno deals with getting to and from work. My current situation will never come close to the 24 mile 2 and a half hour commute from East LA to Santa Monica.

Yup the Ass Chariot is a mighty fine ride compared to 5 hours a day in a toyota truck with no AC and a stick shift. Now I have 55 other wage slaves to share the fun with, and someone else does the driving.

An OK Driver.

The little plaque above the driver's head reads E. Camara. Since I started riding the ACF almost a year ago E. Has been my and 55 other's morning chauffeur. He started driving for Martz just a few weeks after I started commuting by bus into NYC.

E.'s first week was hell, he missed the NJ turnpike north exit and ended up taking the ACF to Jersey City. He was a lost backwoods Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain boy. A number of the PA people were freaking out, E. was on his cell phone trying to get directions to the countries largest city that we all can see across the Hudson river. We past by 3 NJ Path train stations he would not let people off, he spent over an hour taking in the lovely sites of Jersey City, and then going all the way back to Newark to catch the Lincoln Tunnel.

After making 56 passengers over 2 hours late to work he had a Martz Bus Co. Supervisor ride shotgun with him to show him directions the next day. Now he know's where NYC is.

Only one other negative driving incident has happened since then involving E. When coming out of the tunnel, the driver needs to make a very tight "U" turn to enter the Port Authority Bus Terminal. E. did not take it wide enough and hit another bus's back corner with about ten feet our bus grinding the other. E. stops the ACF, flings opens the door and runs out into 40th street. 3 little old ladies start shrieking, telling everyone "you don't know where you are stay on the bus, It's not safe out there". As soon as I heard that I bolted out the open door and leisurely walked to the subway.

E. Camara has been an excellent and aggressive driver, no more wrong turns getting lost, or grinding the aluminum siding off the side of the bus. Just one mysterious thing, when ever he drives over 72mph this buzzer rings and he has to flip a switch to turn off the buzzing. He flips that switch at least 20 times every morning trip to NYC. E. Camara pushes the 72mph envelope, and I love it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Site of old school infamy.

When making the approach into the Lincoln Tunnel curving around the helix, you get this picture postcard view of Manhattan from the dirty Jersey side of the Hudson River. At this exact location on the highway, two men squared off and had the ultimate throw-down.I can't recall the details of who dissed who and why, but the result was Alexander Hamilton was too slow on the draw and Aaron Burr capped his ass. Alex's homies put the signer of the declaration of indepedence on a boat and sent him back to the isle of Manhattan where he died a few days later. Why did they need to have the duel in NJ? Because it was outlawed in NY, another reason to love Jersey. Not sure what happened to Aaron?

But most days I usually just stare at Kate Moss on the David Yurman jewelry billboard in the opposite direction.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

400lb Woman, and an Accountant that knows what he wants.

On the 9pm ACF going home. A very mellow "regular" crowd, lots of empty seats. An odd seating configuration happens.

The regular 400lb Scranton Woman was sitting by herself enveloping her usual 1 3/4 seats, and this very nebishy accountant dweeb walks down the aisle of the bus with this ear to ear grin and asks her "is this seat taken" of course she grunts "no it's not occupied". He giddily shoe-horns himself into the .25 percent of a seat.

The ugly bastard brother of Tom Selleck turns around to me and the other 5 or 6 dudes in the back of the bus and says "the man knows what he likes". He then clinks his brown paper bagged wrapped Bud tall-boy with the MTA Worker across the aisle. We all have a courtesy chauvinistic chuckle and go back to the grind of impatience of getting home to the ones " we" love.

The Simple Facts

Point A to Point B: Panther Valley/Allamuchy, NJ to Port Authority NYC. Then the N,R,W or Q subway from 42nd St. Station to 14th St.Union Square Station, walk half a block to office. Reverse order to go home.

Distances: 51 miles one way.

Route: Interstate 80 to 280 to NJ Turnpike to Lincoln Tunnel to 40th St. Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Average Daily Time on ACF: Varies between 55 minutes to 1hr and 25min each way.

ACF Passenger Capacity: 56

Time Schedule to NYC: 6:30am get on ACF.

Time Schedule to NJ: 7:05pm (my regular bus) if I need to stay later at work I catch the 9pm or 11pm.

Bus Company: Martz Trailways based in Wilkes Barre, PA. All buses run from Scranton PA, to Port Authority, NYC I'm at the only stop in NJ along the journey.

Vehicle Specs: Motor Coach Industries J4500

Monthly Ticket Cost: $425.00

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is it really wrong to hate other people's children when riding the bus?

7:04.59 seconds. The ACF leaves exactly at 7:05pm every night.One second before the driver slams the door shut the loudest family slides in under the cut-off time. To my utter horror all 6 of them sit behind and next to me. They whine, bicker and nag at a mach 5 decibel level.

I am subjected to every detail of there insipid adventure to the big city to see the lion king. The utter disdain I have for every word they say is immense.

One second away from a nice peaceful ride home, even Sam Ash Dude is annoyed, his usually constant kick drum foot cannot stay in time with the usual Celtic Frost Death Metal he listens to, that you can hear 3 rows away from his iPod earphones. The lame PA family has even ruined his 4 beer buzz.

Etymology of ACF (Ass Chariot of fire)

Needing to catch a late bus at 9pm there is a crew of MTA subway train operators, about 6 guys. They all live in Mt. Pocono, PA they all refer to the bus as the "Ass Chariot of Fire". It stuck in my craw and now is the official moniker of my whining and moaning for all bored enough to read.

I believe!

There is something very rare happening. I am not having to share a seat, The silk handkerchief with the "I heart jesus" motif pattern of the Church Lady is draped over the headrest directly in front of me. A divine symbol of today's luckiness. This immaculate event of having a vacant seat next to me on the journey to the city has only occurred two previous times in the one year span I have been making the pilgrimage of daily commerce.

Today when I pass the wacked-out subway bible zealot, I will try not to curse him under my breath. I may even go as far as cracking a smile for the Jew's for Jesus dudes in Union Square station.

If I could get an unoccupied seat next to me on the ACF each and every day, I may learn to tolerate people who believe in invisible deities/ people in the sky.

It's that good of a day... so far.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Back Story

I work in NYC for an internet start-up as a Art/Creative Director. I live in rural northwest New Jersey in a barn that was converted to a house, it's in the middle of corn fields with a quaint river on one side of the property. The constant contrast of hillbilly life vs. city slicker balances things better than any Merck, Pfizer mood pill ever could.

In the same day I can clean up a rubbish heap strewn over the yard and into the woods by a 400lb black bear and then step over puddles of almost every human bodily fluid, be saved from my sins by lunatic zealots and ride elevators with the real next top model, all in the same day before 9am.

That's living.

The Russian Princess

She is loud rude and obnoxious. She is at the front of the line she is a go-getter she must always be 1st.

On the bus now and of course she is in the front seat, with her sour-puss face and outfit 20 years to young for her middle aged scowl. I think she has channeled a 50 year old cold-war soviet Miley Cyrus.

Once on the ride into the city she berated E. Camara our mild mannered southern boy driver, she ranted for 10 minutes about how she was going to be late for work for his slow driving. She was banned from the ACF for a week. LIW would have a hayday with her I just know she must be an old school "Garmento".

Tuesday is Always Crowded

I'm 8 people back from the front of the line waiting for the bus to go in to NYC. The people in line are so concerned about things being fair. They have little markers that they place in position so they don't lose their spot in line.

On the bus in a right side window seat, ankle is rubbing on the heater duct Mr. Semper Fi is pissed I had to sit next to him, he's already back to snoring. Creepy Rocker Chick in seat in front of me is picking at her lip piercing puss scab. An uptight middle-aged office drone is busily applying her eye make-up, why does the ugly cow bother, she must look hot in her own warped mind. I can only guess she needs to look good for her Mr. Douche in accounting.

Rocker Chick just did the "wake up where am I" full body convulsion, the result is 2 long skanky hairs are stuck to the headrest 6 inches in front of my face, and they are waving like a putrid banner from the AC blowing on them.

Almost in Newark, another 20 minutes to get to Port Authority, the epicenter of hope and opportunity for another Tuesday in the NYC. The heating duct has wore my ankle raw from the 500,000 mile old shock absorbers on my Martz Trailways chariot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sam Ash Dude chugs 3 coors tall-boys

He has gone to the bus's pisser 4 times so far. He is engrossed in the autobiography of Slash. But he has on the most amazingly cool thread-bare Silver Surfer T-shirt. I covet it.