The Race Was On

I really didn’t want to take the 5:27.

See, I had to run a Cub Scouts meeting for Little G and his den at 6:45, and taking the 5:27 would mean I had just about 10 minutes to have dinner, hang with Little Miss C and The Missus, slip into my den leader shirt and neckerchief, and head over to the meeting.

Taking the 5 p.m. train, on the other hand, would give me a good 35 minutes or so to unwind.

The only problem was, I was interviewing a guy for a story, he was in Alaska, and it was 4:45, and then 4:50 before we finally wrapped.

I grabbed my coat and bag and bolted for the door at 4:51.

My record trip to the train, from Park Ave South and 26th, had been 9 minutes. It is worth noting that that heroic sprint involved use of the 6 train. 

My office had since moved two blocks north. I needed to do it–14-plus blocks–in 8 minutes.

I ran, the unseasonably cold air burning my lungs.

At 32nd, stuck at a light, I decided it just wasn’t going to happen–that I would have 25 frustrating minutes in Grand Central to kill before the next train. Deal with it.

My Hail Mary pass, just as it had been in July 2010, would be the uptown 6 train. I ran down the steps at the 33rd Street station and peeked around for the arrivals scoreboard. I saw the uptown 6 change from arriving in 1 minute to arriving in 0 minutes.


I ran my card through the turnstile. Alas, it was a spurnstile.

“Insufficient funds,” it told me.

Story of my life.

The train was pulling in. I ran to the ticket machine. I ordered a MetroCard. The train’s doors opened. I ran my Visa through the slot. The doors remained open. The machine did not recognize my Visa.

The doors shut.

It was 4:55 and I had nine blocks and the Grand Central concourse to cover.

I ran anyway.

At 40th, with 90 seconds to catch my train, it dawned on me for the first time that I might actually make it–especially if Metro-North held true to its unwritten rule about leaving 45-60 seconds after the scheduled time.

I sprinted down the middle of the street between 41st and 42nd, dodging airport shuttles, tourists, luggage–burning off every last Thanksgiving calorie.

I caught the light at Perishing Square, and entered GCT at the stroke of 5, hoping for a favorable platform draw.

Track 29. Score. Leaving 60 seconds late. Score.

I was in. I even found a seat, my body temp elevating that of the poor lady next to me reading tax documents.

My heart was still racing when I climbed on my cycle 45 minutes later. But at least I had a leisurely dinner to look forward to.

This entry was posted in 28th Street, Little G, Little Miss C, Metrocard. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Race Was On

  1. Lauren Johnson says:

    Hi Michael,

    I’m writing you from the online department at Poughkeepsie Journal in Poughkeepsie, NY. We believe your tone and content would resonate with several of our mid-Hudson Valley commuters and would like to link to your blog from our page: Please contact me and let me know if you’ll grant us permission to do so. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook as well, send along your handles and we’ll follow. Thanks!

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