December 22, 2005

Subway Strike - Day Three, Which Ends It

Today was an interesting commuting day.

I had been given a ride by Nina from Bay Ridge yesterday, and she actually called me yesterday to arrange a ride to lower Manhattan. I met her in front of the firehouse on Third Avenue / 66th Street at 710am, and down Third Avenue we went.

Nina is from Davao, in the southern part of the Philippines, and she works for Catholic Charities. Her only concern in the three days of the strike was to help a few people each day get where they needed to go.

We picked up her pal ( also from the Philippines ) on 52nd Street Brooklyn who lives in a house across the street from an inflated Grinch ( God I loved that ) and headed down Third Avenue on the way to the Brooklyn Bridge.

With three in a car, we still could not cross the Brooklyn Bridge, so we went trolling for hitchhikers. We hailed two black women who had walked from Prospect Park, and who were preparing to walk across the bridge. They were really happy for the ride, and after they squeezed in, the five of us went off to Emerald City.

I got off in lower Manhattan with the other three passengers, and Nina headed back to Brooklyn. Her job is in downtown Brooklyn, her only purpose for driving into Manhattan these last three brutal days was in order to help her friend and to help other people.

I hitched a ride to uptown with Robert, a small business owner with a Mercedes-Benz BMW SUV. The FDR Drive moved very quickly

The evening commute was not so good. It was a busy day at work, as is normal for this time of year, so I could not leave before 630. And WINS news radio said that all the roads out of Manhattan were hopeless. So I started walking.

I walked over to Second Avenue, then hung a right, south. With only a stop for some Chinese Mexican tacos at Fresh Tortillas Grill Tex-Mex ( 31st/Second ) , went down all the way to the Manhattan Bridge.

There's normally very few people on the pedestrian walkways of the Manhattan Bridge, but tonight was an exception. There were a fair number of pedestrians, and a steady stream of bicylists, with their helmets and red light blinkers, whooshing by.

Trains and cars share this major bridge with pedestrians. One empty train went by, positioning itself for the imminent return to service. The car lanes to my right were bumper to bumper, at about the same speed as me, walking.

I went down Jay Street, and asked a cop at the Lawrence St station when subway service would return. He said maybe midnight. Not soon enough. He asked where I had walked from. When I said 52nd Street in Manhattan, he was pretty surprised.

I went past the urban nightmare of Fulton Mall, turned right at Flatbush, then right again at Third Avenue. I had hoped to hit the lottery with a just-restored Third Avenue bus service, but it was just too early for that. I passed Atlantic Avenue, and hailed a " black car " who for $15, took me back to the sunny shores of Bay Ridge.

After the long walk, it took a bit of effort to get up out of the car, legs weighing a millon pounds each. I treated myself to a 40 ounce Budweiser and a bag of cashews to celebrate the strike's end. Both are no more.

Looking forward to a normal ride to and from work tomorrow. Won't kill the workers, who are good guys in the main, but they did the wrong thing and they know it.

Tomorrow, heroes and villains of the strike on

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