How a Bogle, St. Mary and their Mysterious Human Operative Saved the Day
Yesterday morning I hop off the train from Philly at NY Penn and head toward the A train to zoom down to NYU to teach when I realize my wallet is gone. Had I been pickpocketed or had it fallen out in my train seat? Argh! I make a mad dash back but then realize in the packed rush hour station that I have absolutely no clue which of the 21 tracks we’ve just come up from onto the main floor. Who pays attention to what track number they came in on? Besides, all of the escalators leading down to the platforms are still set to “up” so I have no immediate way down to any newly arrived train.
I run and find a uniformed employee hanging around a back corridor who tells me I have to check with customer service, on the far end of the building, naturally, and that they can tell me exactly which track my train had come in on. By that time my train and my wallet would be long gone anyway but I have no choice.
So I sprint through a million wrong turns and find the customer service office. They’re helpful but can only tell me they’re “pretty sure” my train would have arrived on track 1. I run down to track 1 and a train (my train?) is still sitting there but — Murphy’s Law — it’s locked. Coincidentally a motorman comes along at that time and unlocks the train. I hop on, explain my situation and he tells me to have a blast and look all I want because the train isn’t leaving anytime soon. I walk through the entire train to be safe, looking in the seats, under the seats, in the aisles, nothing. I have to face the fact that my wallet is gone. (continue reading…)
I’m having gas pains. I know that bitching about a car rental company is a mere #firstworldproblem but on the other hand here I am in the City of Brotherly Love for an extended stay and we’re trying to be green and all by not owning a car. My wife and I can afford a car; we just don’t want or need to own one, so we use public transportation as much as possible and rent cars as needed.
When we first came to town we discovered a cool little experiment called PhillyCarShare, a local nonprofit with a grass roots, hometown, environmentalist feel. Then it got bought by Enterprise and now all the employees of Enterprise CarShare live in far away states and handle customers from multiple cities across the US, UK and Canada. Mostly this depersonalized corporatization has been fine but it hasn’t been without its zany frustrations, so much so that this past year we also joined the Avis Budget-owned rival company Zipcar to compare the two. Both have their pros and cons.
Here’s a CarShare con: with Enterprise CarShare you must return the car with a minimum 1/4 tank of gas. They also provide a gas credit card in the car so that you don’t have to pay for it yourself. They also ask you to book an extra 15 minutes of time in case you do need to get gas. So far, so good.
But sometimes their card doesn’t work at some gas stations, or sometimes the card isn’t there at all because a previous driver accidentally kept it, and then you must pay for the gas yourself and send Enterprise CarShare a receipt (or leave the car below 1/4 tank and pay a hefty penalty fee).
Except that sometimes you find out that the gas pump doesn’t print receipts. When these pump problems happen I simply pay for $5 or $10 worth of gas with my own credit card, wait for the charge to appear on my statement and send a screen capture of it to Enterprise CarShare so that it can be credited to my account.
Keep in mind this is all a result of CarShare’s credit card not working so it really burns me up when they make it seem like it’s the customer’s fault and chastise them rather than thanking them for taking the time. See this email exchange below from last week between myself and an Enterprise CarShare customer service rep whom I’ll call “Jane.” (continue reading…)
Looking for the Pope in Philadelphia
On this overcast, blustery fall day I made a lone pilgrimage on foot two miles from my South Philly home to Center City for a chance at glimpsing Pope Francis, “the people’s Pope,” in person. All the way up Broad Street, Army or National Guard soldiers — I’m not sure which — in green fatigues hung out casually in pairs on every other street corner. They’d been there since last night but I’m not sure why as no Papal events are planned this far south and barely a soul was out. The city seems apocalyptically deserted.
Eventually I came to barricades personed by police and military at every intersection to keep out vehicles but as a pedestrian I could pass freely. Finally, just south of City Hall, I reached one of the security entrances to the main event. The lines were much shorter than I anticipated, and much friendlier. Soon I was inside the secure zone.
Although I’m not Catholic and have serious disagreements with the Catholic Church and its checkered history, the Pope is a major historical figure and he’s right here in my town so naturally I wanted to be a part of the event. Like all these visitors from around the world I was one more gawking pilgrim eager to see “the people’s Pope” in the flesh.
Crossing Love Park I got my first glimpse of one of the Jumbotrons, on which the Pope was just starting (continue reading…)
According to an automated Facebook message I received this morning I posted this picture 4 years ago today on 4/12/11. I decided to check my blog for that date as well and yep, this was about to happen:
This morning while hurtling across western Pennsylvania I enjoyed my final Amtrak breakfast. I sat next to a uniformed Amtrak police officer en route to a meeting at our final stop on the Capitol Limited, Washington, DC. From there I’ll take a two-hour ride to Philadelphia on the Amtrak Acela Express and be home in time for dinner.
Across from us sat two elderly women from Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The officer had spent 26 years on the Chicago police force before retiring into a much less stressful “second career” working for Amtrak.
After a few minutes of instinctively probing their names, destinations, life stories, I sprung it on them that I’m a (continue reading…)
Got up with the rooster crow — or in Amtrakspeak the ear-blasting 6am breakfast call — to see off the Warren-Powells who hopped off in Osceola, IA at 7:40am. I then wrote until an early lunchtime (the last meal aboard my beloved California Zephyr before it concluded its run in Chicago) during which I met a pair of retired micro-brewers, Wendy and Don Littlefield. The better half is completing her first novel, a murder mystery that I look forward to reading. They also hipped me to Philly Inquirer food writer Craig LaBan, whom I should have known about as I’m now a Philadelphian, but I didn’t. Now I do. We also talked about our shared appreciation for August Wilson and the fact that they’ll be seeing Two Trains Running in Chicago soon. This was the second time on this trip that August Wilson came up.
I spent my final few hours aboard the Zephyr (continue reading…)
The thinking man’s Thing 1.
The full effect. My better half and I are but bookends to the main attraction. Costumes (besides the wigs) are entirely homemade by said better half.
Thrilled that my Philadelphia “zeppelin” snapshot posted here yesterday is today’s Photo of the Day at Coast to Coast AM.
The last time this happened to me it caused quite an uproar.
* A lot can and did happen in 60 seconds. Last weekend’s One-Minute Play Festival at the Interact Theatre has come and gone and the video is now online at howlround.tv. I urge you to watch all 60 of these charming 60-second plays or skim to any place and watch a few flavorful tidbits to brighten your day. They are funny, tragic, political, topical, you name it. If you’d like to see mine, “Foreign Policy,” written just for this festival, you can drop in at 42:45. It was directed by David O’Connor and features actors Isaiah Ellis, Ashley Fisher-Tannenbaum and Joseph Smithey. *
My short play “Foreign Policy,” written just for Dominic D’Andrea‘s nationally acclaimed One-Minute Play Festival & Philly’s InterAct Theatre Company, and directed by David O’Connor, will premiere this weekend at the One-Minute Play Festival:
Sunday, August 3rd @ 8PM
Monday, August 4th @ 8PM
Tuesday, August 5th @ 8PM
On the main stage at the Adrienne
2030 Sansom Street
This year’s fest features 60+ rapid fire miniature plays by established and emerging Philadelphia playwrights.
Tickets $20 215-568-8079 or Click here
In the meantime, please enjoy a Boneyard cocktail.