Saturday, May 8, 2010

Most suburban couples have two cars. Not us.

Recently my wife and I gave up renting in the city in favor of a quieter existence in the town of Walpole. We're officially homeowners now... and suburbanites. We live about a mile from the commuter rail and I've been holding out hope that we won't have to get second car. With both of us working quirky schedules and in not-so-ideal locations with-in the city, it's something that requires a little bit of creativity, planning, and sacrifice.

My wife works over in Longwood, but the first commuter train doesn't get to ruggles until about 10 minutes after she needs to be at work. So far, it has meant getting up at the crack of dawn to drive her to work and remembering to pick her up 13 hours later. My job is in Allston (parking included). To get there without a car, I'd have to take the rail to the T to a bus, or I could swap one of the legs with a bike ride. The problem on that is the last train leaves from the city before I get out of work.

This weekend we ran into our first couple of conflicts and it has me second guessing the whole car hold-out. Here's how it went down. On Friday, both of us had to work. I was scheduled from 3pm to 11:30pm, while my wife had to work from 7pm to 8am. The problem was she would be napping for her night shift when I headed to work.
We came up with a couple of plans: my three leg journey with a return trip at midnight to Longwood where I can pick up the car. Or, my wife can take the commuter rail in. What we failed to realize is neither of us quite understands how to read an MBTA schedule. We both failed to realize the train she needed to take did not stop at Ruggles. In fact, it didn't even pass through there. This particular train detours through Readville and Dorchester. It's hard enough to catch a cab on a regular day in these places, but when my wife jumped off at Readville station, she didn't realize that across town, cabs were in short supply following Northeastern's graduation ceremonies. After a half hour of calling every cab company in the city (with my help), she managed to hop a bus to Forest Hills. With no cabs in sight, she managed to jump the bus that passed by Longwood via Huntington. One all-out-sprint down Longwood later, she arrived 35 minutes late and rumors of her demise in a train accident had already sprouted up among co-workers. The End. Right? Not so fast.

Fast forward to Saturday. Determined to avoid a similar fiasco, I decide to take the 3-leg journey to my job. With my bike in tow, I open the side door. Suddenly, my Jack Russell Terror with a penchant for chasing cars and a side job as an escape artist decides he's going to do just that. Ki'ipu, who my blog is named after, is out the door and flying... I mean FLYING down the road. After 10 minutes, I manage to get him back in the house. He's covered in mud and needs a bath (otherwise he'll make a mess of our couch). I rush through that (my wife sound asleep in the other room) and rush for the door.

In all the commotion, I realize I dropped my bike light at some point. I need that since my journey home requires me to bike in the dark from Allston to Longwood, where I can pick up the car. I rush downstairs, grab another light and head for the door. A heavy downpour greets me as I step outside. Lovely. I arrive at the commuter rail drenched, but just in time, hop on and head to South Station. The plan is to grab the Red Line to Harvard and bike the remaining 1+ mile to work.

I arrive at South Station to find the Red Line has been shut down and the T is instead busing people back and forth to Park Street. Convinced it could take a several hours to travel a few blocks, I hop my bike and aim toward the Common -- only to have it start raining again. Eventually I arrive at work soaked to the bone and contemplating the purchase of another car. I'm sure I'll change my mind tomorrow when a gentleman from the fence company tells me it's going to cost thousands of dollars to enclose my modest-sized yard, something that has become essential for keeping the dog out of the street and away from all those vehicles that belong to two-car families living in suburbia.