Surprise Trip to Scarsdale

“Scarsdude” makes a case for Scarsdale in our biennial Best Commuter Town contest, citing Harlem Line train access, “sorta ample parking, modern amenities (Dunkin Donuts AND Starbucks practically ON the platform?) and recent station renovations.”

In fact, we had the chance to sample Scarsdale station’s local charms recently, even if we were not in full appreciation mode.

It was last Friday. I was ill–catching something that had bounced around our house for the previous few days. I was focused on completing an important phone interview scheduled for 9:15, then seeing if I felt like calling it a day and heading home.

The 9:15 time was cutting it close for the 8:16 train out of Hawthorne; I would need to either hop a cab or the subway at Grand Central, not my usual gambol down Park Ave South, to make it to my office in time.

It never came to that. I felt woozy on the train, unable to read the paper, unable to sleep, each bump making me more queasy.

The train had been late, and was progressing slowly through Valhalla and North White. More than anything, I needed that train to be on time for my master plan to come together.

Before White Plains, the conductor announced that we would be stopping in Hartsdale and Scarsdale to pick up passengers, due to a disabled train in front of us.

So we were already running late, and would be later still with two extra stops.

More pressing, I felt as though I might hurl at any second, and the thought of being cheek by jowl with my fellow train riders, and unable to get through the human morass to the bathroom in an emergency, made me queasier still.

The train was jammed after the Hartsdale incursion.

I made an executive decision before Scarsdale: Punt. I was never making my office by 9:15 anyway. Find a quiet place to set up my digital voice recorder and do my 30 minute interview.

I disembarked at 8:45. The morning’s rain had stopped. I walked around a bit, feeling that feeling I used to get when stepping off the Eurail train with my big ol’ backpack just after graduating, looking for the bright neon of a pub.

I’d seen Scarsdale’s stately tudor station house from the train before, but never ventured inside. The fact that you can venture inside is noteworthy: Yes, one can not only sit inside a station house and wait for a train in 2012, but there was actually an employee–a burly Nordic type–at the window, to sell tickets and answer your questions.

Ah, the priviledge of the 1-percenters!

It also had, curiously, the shell of a former phone booth inside, but no phone. I don’t know if this was an antique design element (look, kids, this is where we used to make phone calls, and relieve ourselves when drunk!), or if they simply hadn’t finished removing the thing at the onset of the cellphone. Either way, it was big and blocky and inspired little nostalgia in me.

Scarsdale station also has a fairly picturesque setting: a small traffic circle with grass in the middle, then some woods and a stream with a cute bridge over it and even a waterfall. The rain had stopped, but it was a big mud bowl. I thought about setting up for my phone interview there, but the waterfall was too damn noisy.

I wondered exactly where it was that the six Yonkers thugs put a baseball bat beating on the three Scarsdale guys last summer.

I ventured over to a tiny commercial strip next to the trains that included a Dunkin, a pizza joint and a yoga studio. I ordered a coffee and a chocolate glazed donut at Dunkin, cuz that’s what’s best for an upset stomach (Four out of five doctors said so: Dr. Demento, Dr. John, Dr. Detroit and Dwight “Dr. K” Gooden).

I eventually camped on a park bench under a brick overhang in front of the yoga studio. It was mostly quiet, save for the trains rushing by, and the cars that line up on the tiny traffic circle when trains are due in.

But I got the interview done, and it recorded fine, and I actually felt a little better by the time it was over. I hit the Dunkin again, got a big ol’ bottle of water, and waited for the 10:01 to arrive–bidding farewell to Scarsdale’s cute, if muddy, Cotswoldian charm.

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