Adventure in returning home!

7 05 2010

(Journal 8) I know a lot of folks who are afraid of public transportation. I thrive on it.  That first trip to New York and Boston that I took with my father over half a lifetime ago found a sick me and irritated Dad a bit lost in the subway under Manhattan.  He doesn’t like being lost and had been to the city when he was younger.  I had never dealt with a subway on the scale of the New York Subway System, but was familiar with the BART and could get around just about anywhere on the Golden Gate Transit.  I also had a decent knowledge of the MUNI system in San Francisco.  Dad remembers me going to a stand and buying a tourist shirt.  It had a subway map on it.  From there I figured out where we needed to go and got out of his way.  I did the same thing in Belgium without knowing the language because I was bored – sans the shirt, however.

The Boston Subway System – the T – isn’t all that difficult.  What is hard for me is Inbound v. Outbound.  I can get anywhere but N/S/E/W is fairly lost on me.  I’m getting better, proving you can teach an old Dragon new tricks!  Where I have some problems is when they’re working on the train station, and people are short-tempered because of a marathon being in town.

Ok – I’m being unfair.  It was just a that one woman, but she got me massively turned around!

When I was going up to Robin’s, I had a great T-Employee show me how to properly work the ticketing system.  When Mike got our tickets, it looked like you only had a couple of choices.  That didn’t make sense to me, but whatever.  The gent showed me how to put an odd amount of money on the ticket and I saved money buying a weekend pass.  Didn’t think I would, but by the end of this adventure, I would have had to refill my card!

I jumped off the train at the subway stop for the Lenscrafter’s.  I’m not kidding that there’s a candy store that is right next to a dentist!  I’m not making this up!  I thought I got an establishing photo.  Since my batteries are dead for my camera, I depended on my cell phone.  Not bad in the photo department!

Glasses in hand, and a bit of introspection later, I tried to figure out what the bloody hell nasty T-Employee had tried to tell me.  I thought logically.  Once I wrote Steve and Mike saying I was *not* going to make dinner, the pressure was off.  I didn’t have a whole lot of cash on me, but I knew I had food in the room so I would be OK.  The thought passed through my head that I should probably ask one of them to bring me back something.  The thought flew away.  The only scary thing was I had both of their race numbers and if they’re anything like me, they’re not exactly comfortable until they’ve got their bib pinned to their shirt and timing tag on their shoe.  I had both of them.  As a Guide, however, I was not timed, but I had the Guide bib. The thing is this – without a bib number on your shirt/shorts/skirt, you’re not racing.  Without a timing chip on your foot, you’re not timed.  No Tickie – No Racie.  I lose these, I am completely sunk!

I backtracked a bit because usually subway stations are every couple of blocks.  I had a fair amount of daylight left, but if I was going to be on my feet for nearly 8 hours in a race, I wanted off them now.  I was also tired.  Takes a lot of energy to be me and I am really feeling how much my life is changing for the better and how much this race – just being here – means to me.

I walked between what will probably be the family reunion area and was as close as I’ll probably ever get to the VIP tent unless one of my speedy sneaker friends is racing and can get me credentials.  It’s probably not all that and a bag of crisps, but it’s just the thought behind it.  The extra imp gene that I’ve inherited from my mom took over for a moment and I had to run through the VIP tent. There was no one around.  I walked in like I belonged there.  Yeah – Lis Shepard – Racewalker! 🙂 I have to do Boston Qualifier first, hu?!

I kept walking and found an Amtrak Station.  In many East Coast cities, Amtrak connects with the local public transportation.  I texted both Chris and James.  I don’t like admitting I’m lost, but I really needed to get home.  Right after I sent something about being lost, I turned around and found a subway map!  I love this place.  I knew I needed the Wonderland line to go home to Team Wheezy HQ.  Wonderland, according to Chris, is the racetrack, but since I felt a little like Alice down the bunny hutch … To get to the Blue Line, I had to take the Orange Line.  Rock on.  I can handle this.

The only problem was when I was on the train, I must have missed something because I heard the conductor say “Chinatown” and couldn’t find it on the line.  Time to hop off.  I didn’t find out until later that Chinatown is supposed to be a dangerous district.  Ignorance is bliss and I’m not a mark!  There was this gal in the station – the T-Employee – and I want to say her name started with an “M”. She was amazing!  The station was nearly deserted, but she was a happy little mole!  It turned out I was maybe 2 stops from where I needed to be and was on the right train.  Oh well!  Chance to meet someone new!  We started talking and she said she loved working underground helping folks.  She thought my toodling around figuring things out on the fly was terrifying!  To each their own.  When I told her I was walking the race with my guys, she went into the booth, handed me a Dum-Dum sucker and said “Shouldn’t you be eating or something?!”   She pressed a T-map on me and told me some of her favorite places.  Her boss came over who was just getting off work.  Don’t ask me HOW I worked this one in, but I said my cousin is the manager or something of the Elephant & Castle.  The Boss laughed and said she walked right by it every day.  Turned out I was only a handful of blocks away from James and she was willing to walk me to the door!

I texted James and we were off.

It was nice to be able to express my frustration with that one employee and really commend a good one directly to the boss.  She wasn’t in charge of the “bad” employee but her friend was.  We agreed that especially on international race days, you’ve got to have your A-game on to show Boston in the best light.  We stared talking about the restaurant.  The food is yummy, wait staff have their head on straight, and prices really reasonable.  “Look, I’m not saying this because my cousin is there, but if I lived in the neighborhood, it would definitely be my treat!”  She dropped me off at the back door and James saw me come across the restaurant.

Big Shep Hug Time! 

A pint of beer of James’ choice, water, and spaghetti & meatballs.  I got the chance to just hang with James.  We’ve gone to shows together and it’s great to see him really liking what he’s doing.  He sat me in a nice table close to everything he needed to do.  It wasn’t busy, but there’s a lot to do in a restaurant! The staff seemed to like him too!  I needed to decompress, and I really thank James for cutting a hole in the world for me to just feel really safe in.  He’s done it before.  We are the two youngest of our generation of Shepards.  Ok – so the photo is from the previous night with Max on my shoulder.  Whatchagonnado?!

 Right when I was about to leave, it was starting to pick up.  I know that I want to race in Boston again, and I do like this place.  I’ve recommended it to the Road Runner Speedy Sneakers.  Maybe it’s because I like getting away from the Race Hype and to something real.  Real doesn’t mean “real expensive” because I don’t believe a meal has to cost a fortune.  The presentation and comfort level are the “A’ things for me.  And when I can get another fantastic energizing Shep Hug, the world is even better.

I left with directions to the T-station, comfortably full, and with “recharged lithium batteries”.  This Energizer Dragon Shep was ready to get her race stuff together, check in with the boys, and force herself to sleep.

Mike did call right as I was getting on the 66 to the hotel.  Steve was right – 66 is my best bud!  Turns out I had the best dinner of the lot.  Although I am a social person, I do need a lot of myself time.  I like to let my mind wander.

So, after something that could have been a real negative — a T-Employee giving me shoddy directions — I got to play in the VIP tent, suss out another subway system, meet and play with some fun folks on the line and in the station, be directed by some amazing T-Employees, and nosh in the company of my cousin James at the Elephant & Castle after being escorted there.  I’m just a Countess of Can-Do, hu?! or the lengths I will go to for a yummy pre-race spaghetti meal and Shep Hug!

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