Ouch. That’s all I can say after this morning’s commute into southern Manhattan for argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and it’s not the argument that causes me pain. The argument actually went well, as these things go.
What pains me is the commute, all three hours and thirty-five minutes of the time it took to drive from my office in Bethany to the courthouse door in the Big Apple.
Memo to Dannel: Make the trains run on time!
The week is a blur, and local news is an option I have not had time to exercise. On Wednesday evening, when a good friend calls to see how I was doing in trial in the far-flung Duchy of Rockville, I mention that we have a day off so that I can argue an appeal in New York.
“How’re you getting there?” he asks.
“The 6:23 out of New Haven. It’s my favorite train.”
“Check the newspapers,” he tells me. “Metro-North is all [expletive deleted].”
I stumble back to my office at seven or so, and check the news online. Sure enough, the trains are down — something about electrical power. There seemed to be a lot of finger-pointing going on, with Con Ed and Metro-North poking one another in their corporate eyes, while Governor Malloy tries to look above it all.
I love the train. You can get to court in lower Manhattan by 8:30 a.m. by hopping off the train and onto a subway at Grand Central Station. By boarding at New Haven, the first stop on the line, you are also guaranteed a seat. Beginning the day with almost two hours to read is a rare luxury. Some days it is also a necessity, if, as is now the case, I had not yet reviewed the joint appendix in anticipation of argument.
Driving to Manhattan will cost me time I both cherished and needed.
So I call the limousine service we use in a jam. It turns out I am one among many callers. The morning commute was going to be Hobbesian in nature, a veritable war of all against all, with white-knuckled drivers careening through the new state of nature.
My wife consents, without question, to my request to stay overnight in the City, so as to beat the traffic, agreeing so quickly to the prospect of my absence that all at once leaving doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Besides, who wants to spend hundreds of dollars to sleep in a strange bed amid gloaming reveries of evisceration by Amalya Kearse, who is, by my account, the smartest judge before whom I have ever appeared? (Never mind that she is not on the panel; when I catastrophe plan I always foresee the apocalypse.)
No, I am staying in my own bed, with my own wife, far from the rapier intelligence of a judge with the power to overrule God.
I resign myself to a long evening in the office, calling home to tell my wife I’d be driving myself to the city, staying in the office for a few more hours to review and prepare, and silently cursing Con Ed, Metro-North and Dannel Malloy. Oh, that I lived in a state with the governor whose name looked like something other than a typographical error. I mean, just how serious do utility companies take an emergency call from “Dannel”?
The phone rings. The limo company has found a driver. They can get me into the city, but the driver must leave town by noon to make other commitments. I sign on, agreeing to meet the driver at my office at 6 a.m. I figure that would get me to the courthouse in plenty of time to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal in the courthouse cafeteria. I don’t know why, but the oatmeal there is as good as any I’ve ever had. I’d find another way home if the docket crawled.
I never get that breakfast. Indeed, I almost don’t make it to the courthouse on time. Traffic is a clogged artery.
But I do get to read, snooze, and stare out the window for hours, so who needs the train? I’m just wondering who is going to pay for that limo driver’s bill. Perhaps I will deduct it from my utility bill, or send it to Metro-North. Or maybe I’ll send it to Dannel.
Fat chance he’ll pay for it. This train fiasco could well be the governor’s undoing. Only limo drivers are smiling.•