The choice was clear, drive to DuPont Circle from the reaches of Fairfax County, pay for parking, return in rush-hour darkness sans any passengers, listening to “All Things Considered” when stuck trying to get across the 14th Street Bridge and then crawling up Shirley Highway or use public transportation.
[Diverting to the Pentagon to safely pick up “slugs” to Burke seemed much too difficult to chance and, frankly, I never did know where you could pick up “slugs” in the District without being ticketed for obstructing non-moving traffic.]
It was the crucial, all-important day before Thanksgiving Eve, yes Tuesday, — the new departure date for the all-encompassing former four-day holiday when not everyone even got Friday off. Imagine Washington’s Union Station awash in pre-holiday scramble of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of college and university students standing in line with backpacks over their shoulders and rolling luggage full of dirty laundry, waiting to board an Amtrak Northeast Regional.
All these weighed heavily on my mind until I realized that I could be a morally correct commuter not only this day — sunny, almost 60 degrees, but on another day if I used the Joseph Alexander Transportation Center in Springfield. Named for the former county supervisor, who was perpetually late for citizen meetings, the center had connections shelters, platforms, paid parking in a garage, free parking less than half a mile away. Yes, there would be Metro buses, Fairfax Connectors [still don’t know how they work with Metro, having only lived here for 30 plus years] shuttle buses to the former Springfield Mall aka Town Center, Kingstowne and who knows where else, the terminus of Metro’s Blue Line in Virginia, VRE’s Fredericksburg line.
It also had a Connector Store where a seasoned [over 65] commuter could buy an old people’s Metro cards [already had one with more than $10 remaining] and old peoples’ rail tickets [needed one and a round-trip ticket for the future, but to and from a different destination].
The die was cast.
But first the walk from the free parking to the Blue Line then the circuitous ride to Farragut North and then another longer walk to the heart of the land of think tanks, the sprawling repository of speeches, papers, positions, monographs, books, videos, webcasts, live streaming, podcasts, in so many buildings surrounding the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and 18th Street Northwest that I would need to check my bearings to ensure I was entering the right temple.
Aerobic exercise, check. Morally correct commuter, check.