When our rotting infrastructure ruins a little boy’s day

I routinely subject myself to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are included in my New Jersey Transit’s $485 monthly ticket.

I’m usually able to endure the total bullshit that’s doled out by the nation’s worst rail system for three reasons:

– I have an apartment in Manhattan that I use to break up the week’s transit nightmare.

– As the CEO and co-founder of Peppercomm, I often ask myself permission to work from home. I’m a great boss and have yet to turn down one of my requests.

– I’ll soon be moving very close to multiple ferry services that will transport me, by water, to the foot of E. 34th and First (thereby shaving off delays that add up to days each year from my train commute and a stress level that would measure at least 9.3 on the Richter Scale).

But, for once, today’s blog isn’t about me. It’s all about the outrageous stunt NJT pulled on unsuspecting Mets fans today.

Here’s what went down (or came to a screeching halt, if you prefer):

I hopped on a late train (the 8:42am from Middletown which “says” it arrives at Penn Station at 9:58am).

That was perfect since I could join my first meeting by phone and be in the office in time for everything else.

At this point I must add a key component to the narrative: I was absolutely surrounded by dads and their young (as is six or seven year old) sons. They were all dressed to the nines in Mets regalia and en route to see the team’s opening day.

I must admit to being a tad pissed to be sardined by these unwanted additional passengers but, hey, they were Mets fans (and I bleed the orange-and-blue).

So, I cranked up Tom Petty’s greatest hits and let the Mets fans run up and down the aisles, screaming, “Let’s Go Mets” without lodging my usual, formal complaint to an indifferent conductor.

And, then, NJT did its thing.

We stood perfectly still at the Woodbridge station for at least 15 minutes before a garbled message rang out: “Er, ah, so there’s been a derailment and all service into and out of Penn Station has been suspended indefinitely.”

That was it. No further explanation. No apology. Nada.

Immediately, the dads and their kids freaked out. The kids started crying and the dads began noodling on a back-up plan (i.e. car-pooling to CitiField, bagging the whole thing, etc.).

I felt terrible for the little guys who were so psyched to see what would turn out to be a Noah Syndegard tour de force (as he and the Mets destroyed the hated Braves at CitiField).

I’m hoping most dads and sons eventually made it to the game (thanks to their collective ingenuity), but the NJT conductors made it very clear they could give a rat’s ass about destroying an extra special father-son experience.

Trump may be able to fix the rotting infrastructure that’s turned our nation’s trains, planes and roads into a Third World joke, but it would take a miracle to change the attitude of NJ Transit and their work force.

Anyway, today’s experience inspired a brand new tagline for our country’s worst rail system:

“NJT: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

A tip o’ Rep’s conductor’s cap to Chris and Catharine Cody for inspiring this post.


3 thoughts on “When our rotting infrastructure ruins a little boy’s day

  1. Trust me, Dandy, when you’re right smack in the middle of rabid Mets fans going nuts because NJT just canceled the train and ruined their day, it’s very much a story.

  2. NJT needs to take a page from Port Authority’s book. When the PATH (owned by port authority) train stops, the conductor almost ALWAYS explains right away “we’re being held to let another train pass” or “there’s another train right behind us with more room” or “the next stop is Hoboken, this train will be out of service so move to track 2.”

    And, during today’s commuting fiasco, the Port Authority bus conductors yelled out to the PATH commuters that the bus would be faster (b/c PATH trains were delayed.) I still got to work late, but was happy that the conductors gave me the fastest route in an otherwise crappy situation.

  3. This, to me, is a non-story. It’s just par for the course with NJT. I don’t know why people complain or are surprised when something such as this happens. It’s like griping when a toddler falls down. It’s a toddler, that’s what they do. This is NJT. This is what they do.