Sunday, September 30, 2012

Riding The Rails With BillyS

It casually came up in a phone conversation I was having with my sister.
Unkown Kid
This weekend, Ross and I were on our way down to Annapolis to attend a Navy football game.  It is about a 3 hour drive from our house.  My sister lives somewhere in that direction, south of us.

First, before I go any further, I have to explain that I have a genetic disorder called Williams syndrome.

Now while  I haven't been professionally or medically tested for this, I googled my symptoms and this is what I found:

"Williams syndrome, a rare condition which occurs in one in 7,500 people, is caused when a small amount of genetic material is missing from one human chromosome. Individuals with Williams syndrome have strong language skills and are extremely social, but they have trouble with tasks like doing puzzles or copying patterns or navigating their bodies through the physical world."

Except for the "extremely social" part, this was me.  I have Williams syndrome.  The part I relate most to is the "navigating..."part.

Second, I love Wendy, my GPS lady.

Okay, back to the phone conversation with my sister.

I called her to tell her we were on our way to Maryland.  "Don't you live somewhere around there?" I asked.

Ha! My sister, who claims NOT to have Williams syndrome, called over to her husband and asked how far they lived from Annapolis.

But in all fairness to her, she probably only has a mild case.  I know this because she travels by train and has a metro card.

Which brings me back once again to the phone conversation.

So once we established where I was going to be in relation to where she lived, she suggested that if in the future, Ross wanted to go to a Naval Academy event and I didn't, he could drop me off at a train station, where I then could "navigate my body" to her house, via train.

I gasped, sucked in air, and managed to squeak out, "What?"  "Take the what?"

She said, "You could take the train here."

"Really?"  I said.  "Aren't you forgetting about my BillyS?" (my nickname for Williams syndrome)

"Oh that again," she sighed.

"Anyway, I've never been on a train?" I said.

That was a little bit of a lie.  I was on a train once when I was 18.  It's a long story.  One which I will tell someday.

But there was this one other time.

So I worked for a company whose main offices were in the City.  The branch where I worked was a nice and easy ten minute, straight down the highway, no turns commute from my rural suburban home.

Occasionally there were times when it was necessary for me to go into the City.  But the company had a shuttle van which provided door to door service.
One day my supervisor told me that we would be working on a new project which would require that I go into the City once a week to attend a status meeting.  (Yes, I'm old and this obviously was a long time ago. No video conferencing back in the day.)

No problem,  I thought, I'll just take the 9:20 van.

But, as I soon found out,  the meetings would be starting at 9:00.

This would mean that I would have to find my way to the train station, take the train to here, then make sure I got off this stop and get on another train to there, then hail a cab or take a bus to my final destination.

Seeing the panic on my face, my boss, who knew about my BillyS, told me that she would go with me the first time.

That put me somewhat at ease.

The big day arrived.  My train training day.

I found my way to the train station.  (I made several practice runs before hand to make sure I knew the way.)
I met up with my supervisor.  We got on the train together.  This isn't so bad, I thought.   I could do this.
We came to the place where we had to get off that train, walk over to another terminal and then get on another train. So far, so good.  Piece of cake.
As we were waiting on the crowded platform (train talk) my boss told me that I had to push my way in, like everyone else did.  "Just go for it!" She said.

That's what I did.  The train pulled up, the doors opened, I pushed my way in.  I turned around, thinking my boss was right behind me.  But she wasn't.  I panicked.  The doors closed.  My boss was still standing on the platform on the other side of the doors.  Apparently she hadn't pushed her way hard enough.

The memory I have of that exact moment is the image of me, eyes wide with fear, my hands and face pressed up on the train door window, with a pleading look of “please help me”.
I think my boss was just as shocked as I was.  I think she feared it would be the last time she ever saw me.  She was probably conjuring up visions of  me, a  bag lady living on the streets forever trying to find my way home.

But since she was a train pro, she hailed the platform man and he managed to convey a message to the door opening man to open the doors.

So that's why, Johanna, I can not take the train to your house.  I mean, that terrifying train experience, which has scarred me for life, btw, in conjunction with my BillyS, well I just couldn't manage it, at least not unchemically, that is.

Oh, the company I worked for was BillyS sensitive so the meeting times were changed to 10:30.
Door to Door Van Service provided.

BillyS Goats?

Laughing at myself.

As I was writing this I took a look at the NJ Transit home page complete with a "How To Ride The Train Video."  If only they had this back in the day.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.
Here are the catch up entries from Anna's diary:

Friday, September 27, 1929
Elsie here for lunch.  Left early.  Baby and I went to visit Elizabeth M.  Peg was there with her baby.  Home for supper.  Cousin Meg phone to go to see her.
Sat. September 28, 1929
Slept late this morning.  Bud came over to start simonizing my car.  Had lunch with me.  Went to 360 at night and Peg, Jean and I went to see Broadway Melody with Bessie Love.
Sun. September 29, 1929
Went to Grandma M's for dinner.  Grandpa and boys there.  All ate together.  Cleaned up then went to 360.  Had nap.  Went to see Helen K. for a while then met Jean & Peg to see "Four Feathers."
Mon. September 30, 1929
Went to Mary's for a few minutes.  She was sick in bed.  Went to Angie on River st. to go with me to see a friend whose husband died.  Stayed at Angie's for supper. Then home.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this is hilarious. I'm a patient of Dr. Google, as well. I have superior navigational skills, though, so I'm pretty sure I don't suffer from BillyS.

    My sister is practically a protege of Dr. Google, being something of an amateur diagnostician (sounds kinder than a professional hypochondriac on behalf of herself and everyone around her) and she once told me that she thought that two of my children and I were "hyperlexic." Google it. It's fun. ;)