Unemployment Nine: This hat trick put me in the penalty box

I scored a hat trick on my commute to my freelance job this morning. Had I been playing hockey, I’d be elated, as it would mean that I had scored three goals. However, when it comes to my commute, it means that I just missed the PATH train, just missed the D/B/F/M/whatever the hell else the MTA decides to run down the Sixth Avenue line, and just missed the 7 train.

Three times in one morning ... FML

This wonderous display of piss-poor timing stretched a commute that usually takes me about 50 minutes (and probably would be 45 minutes if not for the fucking tourists in and around Grand Central Terminal) to one hour and 15 minutes.

Aside from the annoyance of just missing trains three times in a row, that one hour and 15 minutes is completely unproductive time, which is not a good thing while trying to juggle two freelance jobs. I’m underground the entire time, meaning that I can’t even check e-mail. Even if I could, as much as I love my Droid, I’m not about to try to do work on it. As it is, half of the texts I send out get cut off in the middle because my sausage fingers keep hitting the return button. I wouldn’t dream of trying to do any real work on the Droid.

I really, really wish I could work from home for both jobs, as even the normal 50-minute commute each way represents 100 completely and utterly wasted minutes. I’m not going to try to sport a halo and claim that I don’t waste some time of my own during the work day, but I’d much rather be harassing friends on Facebook and shoring up the bullpen of my fantasy-baseball team than standing on a platform scratching my ass.

Bah.

Nervous Nelly lives!

I lived in the northwest part of Hoboken for three years, in an apartment complex that offered a free shuttle to the PATH station, as northwest Hoboken is on the exact opposite end of town as the train.

I usually caught the last shuttle in the morning, at 9 a.m. Mornings and I don’t get along — never have, never will. And more often than not, there was a woman on that shuttle who I used to refer to as Nervous Nelly.

Nervous Nelly would arrive at the corner where the shuttle picked us up at about two minutes to 9, nervously pacing, stamping her foot, checking her watch, checking her BlackBerry and repeating all of those steps several times until the shuttle arrived.

Then once the shuttle was en route to the PATH station, she’d be even worse. Every time the bus slowed down, an exasperated sigh would follow. More watch-checking, more BlackBerry-checking, more foot-stamping, and God help us all if someone was double-parked and the bus had to honk because it couldn’t get through.

When we finally arrived at the PATH station after the harrowing five-minute journey, she’d fly out of the bus, sprint down the stairs and practically dive head-first into the train.

Well, I hadn’t seen Nervous Nelly since I moved downtown about two-and-a-half years ago, but I got on the PATH after work Wednesday and there she was, in all of her splendor, stamping her foot and checking her watch several times between each stop. Predictably, when the doors opened in Hoboken, she took off so quickly that you’d think the first person up the stairs got a free five-carat diamond.

Glad to see you’re still among the living, Nervous Nelly. One suggestion: You might want to cut down on the caffeine a little bit. Just a little bit.

Commuting law of diminishing returns

I’ve been heading into work at different times of the morning, largely due to a plethora of meetings. Because, after all, why accomplish anything productive when you can just sit in a conference room and talk about it?

I tend to go into work on the later side, after doing a little bit of work at home in the morning, but I’ve had to leave a little earlier for some of these meetings. And a theory I’ve had in my head for a while proved itself true again.

I’ll call my theory the Commuting Law of Diminishing Returns. Here’s how it works: If I leave for work in the range of 30-90 minutes earlier than usual, the amount of time I actually save — as in, the time I actually arrive in my office — is cut in half.

Translation: If I leave for work one hour earlier, I actually arrive in the office a half-hour earlier than I would have if I had left at my normal time.

Why is this? Simple: There are far more people on the train platform, on the train itself, leaving the train station, at the newsstand, at the deli, or just plain in the way.

The moral of the story: It’s more efficient to leave later. And whether this is absolutely true or not, I’m running with it.