Ya gotta laugh or…
Sometimes life veers into the absurd. This seems to be a fairly regular occurrence with me, which is fine because it makes things interesting.
In the past four days, I have been adjusting to a number of things:
- Being back in the U.S.
- Being in a new city/moving to a new area
- Trying to figure out how to get around in said new area (where to buy food, where is the nearest Target, and HOW to get around when you don’t have a car)
- Living with a new roommate
- Trying to launch a social life
- Trying to network and conduct a job search
In general, I think I have been handling all of this well. However, I must admit, on Saturday I got frustrated, and got to the point where it was either laughing or crying.
My first couple of days started out well – I visited PC Headquarters (well, the career center), then saw a friend who was in my training cluster in Ukraine, and whom I have not seen in probably a year. Saturday I visited a group of alumnae from my college sorority and learned how to make “sushi” (no fish) and spring rolls (fabulous and fun). On the way back, I asked if the driver would be willing to stop at a specific store so I could get a bus card. She said of course. And then the absurdity began.
To back up and illustrate why I need this card, I will explain what I have learned so far about transit here. It is a little challenging to figure out if you don’t live IN DC itself (which I don’t because it is too expensive). On the WMATA web site (the transit authority) you can see bus route maps for Montgomery County, MD (where I live), where it shows the number of the bus. What it does not tell you is that you cannot get the route information from that web site. I found this out when I called them and was told “That is a Montgomery County Ride On bus, you have to go to that web site for information.”
Okay, so I did that and got the information I needed, found the bus stop (all within 24 hours of arriving, not too bad), got on and paid. As I got off I asked about monthly passes because, having done the math, I figured it would be far less expensive to get a monthly pass than to pay with cash every time (and at $1.80 per time, I would also have to stock up not only on ones and quarters, but nickels too, sheesh). The bus driver said “you can get them at Giant, CVS, or that (blah blah) building over there (points in a general direction).
I opted to go to Giant or CVS. First challenge – where is a Giant or CVS that is close to my place of residence? We found one, and as we were driving up I said “watch, I’ll get in there and they won’t have any.” Well, that is exactly what happened – I went inside, asked about it, and was told they did not have any; they directed me to another CVS.
Side note – WHEN did a regular size candy bar become $1.20?? I had a bit of a chocolate craving, which quickly went away when I saw THAT price. I asked when it happened and mentioned how I remembered when a candy bar cost $.25. Ah, the good old days…When I said that, the woman next to me started laughing….guess being out of the country for nearly three years puts you behind in more ways than one!
We decided to try a Giant instead, but to make sure we went to one WITH these mysterious monthly fare cards, we looked on the Montgomery County web site to find a location. We then found the Giant, and I went in. I approached the Customer Service counter with some trepidation, and my fears were again confirmed when I asked for a monthly pass and was told they don’t have any.
Another woman there said that there was some sort of upgrade/update going on to the system, and that they had not received the upgrade as of yet.
I returned to the car, to my companions asking “did you have success this time?” and I laughed as I told them no, indeed I did not. She mentioned how frustrating it was and I said yes it is, and I have to either laugh or I will cry. You see, right now I am living in suburbia. Real far out (to me) suburbia. I told my roommate I would live here as long as it is temporary; I had no idea just how temporary I would end up wanting it. I don’t particularly like feeling like a child who needs to be driven around to the various places she needs to go because she does not have a car and there are no buses except the ones that go to the Metro. So…it’s frustrating. So I laughed, and returned home to look up more information on the Montgomery web site about these mysterious monthly cards and why they are not available.
Apparently they are not available because Montgomery County is trying to force everyone to use the same fare card as the people in DC use, and that a person uses for the Metro. It makes sense, really…but then don’t put information about some other monthly card on your web site and how it is available at all of these places…
So I obtained one of these cards from my roommate and tried to register it so I could load money on it electronically. Two days and too many requests for account activation later, I was able to activate the card and put money on it. Now let’s see if I can use it…