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Planes, Trains, but no Automobiles

Today was pretty much an exercise in torture. By the end, it was so bad that I ended up in tears on the phone with my mom. Not the best way to start Immersion, but what can you do.

You remember that flight that was delayed? The one from Chicago to Boston? Well, first it was going to be 40 minutes late, leaving at 3:45 instead of 3:05. Then all of a sudden they were boarding by 3:15, and we were all on the plane and accounted for by 3:25. Not bad, thought I. There’s still a chance that I’ll make it in time to meet the people I said I’d meet. Then we sat on the tarmac for 25 minutes. No kidding.

When we finally did take off, the captain said we’d probably still get in to Boston by 6:40, only 20 minutes late. Great, I thought, other people from our group will still be arriving by then. I still have a chance.

Then something weird happened. About the time I figured we should be landing, we were still very, very high up in the air. What was even more weird was that we were heading north. The sun was setting directly to my left (I had a window seat). Hmmm, I thought. We must have hit the coast a little south of Boston. Then the captain came on and explained that Logan was busy and we’d been killing time up in Maine.

So after a little detour to Maine, and then another one out over the Atlantic (there are some HUGE boats way out there in the middle of no where), we finally found our way back to Logan and landed. It was “only” 7:05. Well, the last time I’d had access to my phone, I’d called the two people whose numbers I knew and told them I’d be in by 7:00, so there was still a chance they’d be waiting for me.

But we didn’t taxi to the gate. We sat there. Just sat there. And sat. And sat. 15 minutes into this waiting game, the captain came on and mumbled something which sounded like an announcement about another plane being at our gate. The only thing clear about his announcement was that it would be another 5 or 10 minutes before we could deplane. Meanwhile, I watched a whole fleet of American Airlines planes land, taxi to their gates, disgorge themselves of passengers and cargo, get cleaned out and refueled, get all packed up with passengers and cargo, and then take off. It was utterly surreal. (The three-year-old across the isle from me didn’t find ANYTHING amusing about all this. Not a thing.) 45 minutes after landing, we moved forward. The passengers cheered… but we weren’t actually going to the gate. We just got a little closer. Then we waited some more, and then moved forward a little.

Now we could SEE our gate, beautiful and empty, the promise of freedom (and a bathroom) causing the whole cabin full of passengers to hold their breaths. But no. We were just going to look at it for a while. It was like a giant game of “Mother May I.” Mother may I take one ginormous leap forward? Please? Pretty Please?

Almost exactly an hour after landing, we finally got off the plane. Then began the adventure of the trains.

The airport provides a complementary shuttle service to the nearest train station, which I took without incident. Then I figured out the pass system at the train station (when I lived here it was all tokens!), boarded my Blue Line train, got off at the station that connects to the Green Line… It was all going so well! And then my train stopped. Just stopped. Right there on the track.

And then it backed up.

At this point I still had enough blood sugar in my system to begin to find this morbidly amusing. Yeah, that was before getting off the train (which was ABSOLUTELY PACKED, I might add) and starting to follow the directions for walking the rest of the way to Simmons. My directions said, “Walk towards the Landmark Center when you get off the T. Follow Park Drive (the road that’s the overpass above the T stop) until it intersects with Brookline.” Ok, I thought. No biggy. So I exited the train, walked toward the shopping mall that I assume was the Landmark Center, saw the overpass, and walked over it.

After walking a couple of blocks, I began to think that things weren’t looking right. But the last thing I wanted to do while walking alone around Boston, trailing my luggage behind me (thank goodness for wheels on suitcases!), was pull out my map and look lost. The key to not getting robbed is to walk fast and look like you know where you’re going (and not be obvious about carrying valuables, but that was already shot). Finally, when the sidewalk petered out, I turned around, went back to the 7/11 I’d seen, and asked directions there. I’d been going the wrong way. Apparently, when the directions said to take the road that was the overpass over the T stop, it hadn’t meant to go over that overpass. It had just meant the overpass bit as a defining feature of the road. Great. So I walked all the way back to the T stop, still trailing my suitcase behind me and feeling oh so exposed and lost, walked the other way on Park Drive, and continued to follow the directions.

I got to Simmons, but didn’t know it, and kept walking. All this was complicated by the fact that the campus map is not oriented with north on top, so I didn’t realize that the campus was going to be on my right. I thought it was going to be across the street from me. Well, across the street (and two blocks down, but who’s counting) wasn’t Simmons. It was the hospital. Fine, I thought, I’ve got no pride left. So I got myself buzzed into the lobby and asked the guy at the main desk where Simmons was. He pointed me back the way I’d come, and I left again, my suitcase wheels making rhythmic bumping noises across the squares of pavement.

I found my way back to Simmons, and even located the building I was supposed to enter to check in. But the door was locked with only a key card reader and an emergency phone. There was no way I was going to stand there, in the dark, looking through all my papers for a phone number to call for someone to let me in, so I walked along the sidewalk some more, looking for a break in the fence so I could actually get onto campus before looking even more vulnerable and rob-able than I was already. A few buildings down, I saw and entrance and dove for it. Once inside the campus, I found out that the door leading into the magical check-in building was open as long as you were coming at it from the center of campus… Aaaarrrrggggh!

But I’m check in, I’ve made my bed, and I’ve even eaten a few granola bars that I’d packed. (There’s no way I’m going out questing for food tonight!) The student worker who checked me in informed me that I made it just 10 minutes before she was closing up shop, so something went right today. Barely. All in all, it took me until 10:00 to get here. Oh, and my internet connection that they said I’d have in my room? The one I brought my LAN cord for? Nothing doing. My computer doesn’t even recognize that I’m plugged in. I would say “I could just about cry,” but I’ve already done that.

[Update: Yippee for an internet connection! One outlet is a dud, but the other one works.]

3 thoughts on “Planes, Trains, but no Automobiles

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