Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Holy cow! Barbecued bus, anyone?

As you can seen one of the buses that serves the Fort Washington train station had some technical difficulties. And when I say "technical difficulties", I mean "the rear half of the bus was on fire". (!!!!) This was as close as I could get to it without making it obvious that I was making use of a camera phone. I didn't think the SEPTA supervisors on the scene would be too enthused by my on-the-spot reporting.

Fortunately, from what is being retold among the passengers at the train station, the driver was alone in the bus and he'd been about to start his first run of the day. Passing motorist honked and told the bus driver the vehicle was on fire. The driver exited the bus just as there was a loud BOOM. The first thing that he was asked, upon reporting the problem, was if he'd tried to put the fire out; the answer was a resounding *no*.

If the above sequence of events, as shared among the passengers awaiting the train, is what happened, I don't blame the bus driver. I've seen those travel-sized fire extinguishers carried on buses. I've eaten ice cream cones that are bigger than those things. I think they'd be more useful in assisting a person whose clothes had ignited (God forbid) thanks to an accident or vehicle fire. No way in heck are they designed to put out half-a-bus's worth of flame. That's a job for either Superman or the fire department, depending on which of them arrives first.

I'm glad the only casualty appears to be the bus. I wonder if this will make the news?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

For the record...

If I'm standing 6-10 feet away from you on a train platform, and can clearly hear the music emanating from your headphones even over the background noise of a train pulling into the station, you're committing mayhem on your ears. Turn down the freakin' volume while you still have a sense of hearing to preserve.

P.S. And I'd say the same thing even if my fellow passenger's choice of music DIDN'T sound like schlock.

Friday, January 19, 2007

When I rule the world, all people will LEARN TO PROOFREAD!

Gaaah! The seeds of this rant were planted a few weeks ago, when we prepped and sent out a *huge* batch of medical insurance cards for a new customer, which we'll call XYZ Management Services. Soon afterward, we began receiving complaints that the aforementioned cards contained an incorrect customer service phone number on the back.

Therefore, all those cards were reissued, this time bearing the correct customer service number. Seven people dropped everything they were doing to prep yet another giant batch of cards, including adding an insert to the envelope that explained the reason for the replacement card. This insert informed subscribers what the correct phone number should be, and told them to destroy the original card with the wrong information on it.

So there we all were, stuffing cards and inserts into envelopes like mad, trying to get the entire XYZ shipment ready for the mailroom as quickly as humanly possible. Suddenly, we were called to attention by one shout: "Pull the insert!" It turns out that the insert, which was created to explain XYZ's phone number mistake to subscribers, contained a mistake on the corrected phone number...!

Eeeeeyaaah!!! My freaking nerves!

We had to remove the insert with the error from all those envelopes, then wait for the corporate print shop to print Insert Version 2.0, with the information that XYZ Company *really* intended to send. Then we sped through stuffing the corrected inserts into the envelopes with the corrected insurance cards. I couldn't help but notice that the revised inserts were still warm from the printing press.

Like I said: when I rule the world, people will proofread. Someone else provided wrong information, but OUR department was the one to deal with the chaos that resulted.

I need some aspirin.

How's this for a hazard? This is the outbound regional rail boarding platform at SEPTA's Fern Rock Transportation Center. It sleeted/snowed a bit overnight; can you tell?

Passengers need to walk across the coating of frozen granules (too gritty to be snowflakes, IMO) to board trains. Oh, and the two-story-tall stairs leading down to the platform are in the same condition. Remember from several posts ago that this is the station where I avoid touching the railings because of the pigeon droppings that haven't been removed since I started this commute back in October... you can just imagine how delighted I was to walk down the iced-over stairs this morning, without the precaution of holding the railing.

Yo, SEPTA, have you ever heard of salt? How about shovels, or for goodness sakes at least a decent broom?

If someone breaks their freakin' neck out here, well, now you'll know why.

Just some random thoughts on a frosty Friday morning...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

BWAHAHA! It took me a few times' worth of hearing the beeps of the person across the aisle's cell phone, but suddenly I realized what the signal was. The pattern was three short beeps, two long beeps, and three short beeps. Each time the phone sounded, its owner would flip the device open, read, then text a response.

At first, I thought, "It sounds almost like Morse code for 'SOS', except that the letter O is three dashes, not two."

Then, a memory from eons ago surfaced: two dashes is the way to render the letter M in Morse code. Once upon a time, in Hell-imentary school, my friends and I thought we might converse in class via Morse code. But we couldn't manage to signal each other without also annoying the teacher with the noise, so the experiment lasted only one day... but I digress.

Anyway, the moment I remembered the meaning of two dashes in Morse code, I realized that "... _ _ ..." means, "SMS". So the phone was actually saying "SMS" whenever it received an SMS. :o) Clever! I got a chuckle out of that.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a nerd. So sue me. ;o)