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another one of those days - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-11-19 23:29
Subject: another one of those days
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:wearyweary
Music:the news quiz podcast
Commuting in London can often be a surreal experience, but just occasionally, if the stars are right and the Moon's in the right phase, it drops straight down into the Kafkaesque. Let me tell you about my morning. I apologise to those villagers who are unfamiliar with the London Underground and who will find this post blindingly boring.

I was late out of the house and I missed my overground train, so I had to walk to Arnos Grove station to catch a Piccadilly Line train instead. It's only a ten-minute walk and it's no great stretch; I often miss my train and have to walk to Arnos Grove.
Anyway, my weekly travelcard had expired and I needed a new one, but this being Monday there was a queue a hundred feet long at the ticket window so I decided to get a single and renew my travelcard when I arrived at City Thameslink, my destination station on Ludgate Hill.
So I do that, and I do my usual route: Piccadilly Line to Finsbury Park, Victoria Line to King's Cross, Thameslink overground train to City Thameslink - which is just a few hundred yards from our office.
Many delays on various bits of travel this morning. I didn't reach City Thameslink until ten o'clock, slightly mussed and rather annoyed. I went up the escalator, put my ticket in the gate, and the gate spat it out again, but the gate didn't open.
I did it again, and the gate spat the ticket out again, but it still wouldn't open.
So I approached one of the station staff, thinking - and this happens now and again - that there was something faulty with my ticket. But no.
"You can't use that ticket here," he said.
I don't think I said anything, but I do remember essaying a hard stare.
"That's a Tube ticket," he said. "This is a rail station. You can't use that ticket here."
Another hard stare.
"That's a Tube ticket..." but by then I was heading back down the escalator.
Now, I could have caught a train to the next station, which is Blackfriars, but to get out of Blackfriars main line station and reach the safety of the Underground I would have had to run the gauntlet of yet another ticket barrier.
So instead I wound up waiting for fifteen minutes for a train back one station to Farringdon, where I was finally able to escape and walk to work.
Now, the irony (and I admit I'm the only person in the world who appreciates this) is that, although main line trains pass through Farringdon, it's not classed as a `terminus station' and rail tickets aren't eligible there. Something I discovered two years ago when I had a rail ticket and wasn't allowed out of the station, even though I had an appointment for an interview at an hotel virtually next door to the station.

I've been commuting for...oh, christ, it feels like I've been commuting most of my life now, to no great effect, and, the previous incident notwithstanding, it never occurred to me that you can actually wind up trapped on the London transport system.

Anyway, I finally made it into work at half past ten, roughly two hours after I left home, to find that our company intranet and internet system had crashed and nobody could do any work. In addition, on trying to boot my PC the damn thing simply turned up its toes and died. All I get is an error message. I strongly suspect it's beyond help. Not that our IT department (which is in Dundee) appear too bothered.

And it rained. A lot.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-11-20 01:09 (UTC)
Subject: Well, if you don't write the story I will...
It was just the cosmos telling you that there's a wonderfully frustrating story in there. Go write it, but only while you're on your commute ... with a broken crayon and an old notebook that you leave behind once you're just about finished, then Dan Brown can find it and publish it as his next opus, and no one will believe it was really yours.

Buck up buckeroo.
-the one who knows (be very afraid)
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RealThog: Jim's bear pic
User: realthog
Date: 2007-11-20 01:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Well, if you don't write the story I will...
Keyword:Jim's bear pic
"no one will believe it was really yours"

Actually, however badly (for Hutch) Hutch wrote it, still no one would believe Dan Brown had ascended to such literary heights.

There's Kevin J. Anderson, there's total shit, there's worse than that, and then there's Dan Brown ...
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-20 22:45 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Well, if you don't write the story I will...
What do you know? Why should I be afraid? Not that I'm not, you understand...
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-20 22:46 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Well, if you don't write the story I will...
Could you do that as a cover blurb for me one day? `Hutch: he's better than Kevin J Anderson.'
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pds_lit: Arthur
User: pds_lit
Date: 2007-11-20 03:25 (UTC)
Subject: Your Day, A BIG Opportunity
Keyword:Arthur
Just look at it this way...as others have suggested, you can write it down using the frustration of all of it all to craft a story and maybe you will get a new computer at work. And...at least your cat doesn't puke outside your office door.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-20 22:44 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Your Day, A BIG Opportunity
Actually, they do puke outside the office door. And anywhere else they happen to be when the mood takes them. One of them decided to divest himself of a hairball while standing on the bed last week, but I managed to get a newspaper in front of him just in time.

And, yes, it will probably work its way into some kind of story. In fact, now you mention it, I can see a place for it in Europe In Autumn.
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pds_lit
User: pds_lit
Date: 2007-11-20 22:52 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Your Day, A BIG Opportunity
Sometime we will tell you the story of Boda eating a mouse and where she decided to leave it.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-20 23:00 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Your Day, A BIG Opportunity
I'll look forward to that.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-20 22:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's the exact line that went through my head while I was waiting for the train back to Farringdon. You suppose The Eagles ever travelled on the Tube?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-20 22:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Someone at work beta-read The Villages, and the first thing he said when he handed the manuscript back was, "There's a lot of commuting in here, isn't there?"
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-11-22 20:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have no idea who you work for, but its nice to see that someone else has a disfunctional IT department. I work at a factory with around 95 employees, made up of managers, shift workers, clerical staff, and some token technical people like myelf. Our server power pack blew up last week and we couldn't use e-mail or print on networked printers for a day. But we could still use our computers at least.
Our IT department is in fact a sales clerk who was once sacked, then reinstated when they realised that he knew everything that nobody else did about the archaic and useless computer systems we had and still have. He also doesnt wash properly, plays heavy metal on the computer speakers whilst working and swears at managers.

I know how to handle him though, best way is to sidle up looking confused and saying something like "I can't get this to work, I've asked everyone else but htey don't know how, and you know its awfully complicated..."
Whereupon he has to prove that he can make the computers sit up and beg. And he can. Then I sidle off with the information I was after. Meanwhile, people who don't know how to handle geeky weirdos like him tend to find themselves waiting for hours.

So who is going to write a short story about someone trapped on the London Underground? I imagine they could survive for ages, as long as their credit card or coins lasted so they could buy food and drink and tickets.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-22 22:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's not so much that they're dysfunctional, as such, it's more that they're three or four hundred miles away in Dundee and can only fix things either remotely via our intranet, or by the broken things being physically boxed up and couriered up to them.

Our last IT guy in London retired a few years ago, and it was decided not to replace him, I presume to save money. There have been so many occasions when all we've needed was a bloke with the right training and a screwdriver and things could have been fixed in five minutes. Instead of which, everyone runs around like headless chickens for half an hour, then someone rings Dundee and, if things are serious enough, they send someone to us.

I sent my broken PC up to Dundee and today got a phone call about its status. Apparently the technical term for it is `fucked.'

I'm tempted to write the story about being trapped on the Underground, but if anyone else wants to give it a shot, go ahead.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-11-23 01:16 (UTC)
Subject: Trapped in the underground
As soon as I read that (the idea of making a story about being trapped in the Underground), it reminded me of Thomas M. Disch's short story "Descending", which is about a man trapped in the escalator system of a large department store.

You can even read it over at the scifi.com archives if you like:

http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/disch/disch1.html
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-23 22:47 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Trapped in the underground
My god, the archive's still up! Someone told me it had gone. Dear lord there was some good stuff published by SciFiction. I'm even there somewhere.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-11-24 00:04 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Trapped in the underground
Now I'm tempted to copy the entire contents of the archive to my hard drive, as I'd hate to lose access to such a good resource.

I see they do indeed have three or four stories of yours there. I wonder if I can stretch my brain cells enough to handle reading them right now... I already have three novels on the go at the moment!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-11-24 00:18 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Trapped in the underground
It's a big archive. I copied my stuff because I have a colossal ego, but I also copied all of Howard Waldrop's stuff because he's a remarkable writer and I love his stuff. You should read `The Ugly Chickens,' which I think is a truly marvellous story. If I write one story half as good during my career, I'll go to my grave a contented hutch.
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