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Archive for the ‘Commute’ Category

Nov 18 2008

Kind Slug Driver

Posted by Dale @ 8:37 am in Commute Print This Post Print This Post

I think Mugs believed that once I bought my new car, I would start driving to the Pentagon everyday rather than riding as a slug. But I’m happy to report that I haven’t given up riding with strangers each day. However, I need to drive to work about 1-2 times each week to attend frequent meetings at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Topographic Engineering Center (TEC). With the thought of riding my motorcycle in the middle of a Virginia winter, I bought a Honda Civic. When I got home from the dealer, I took the kids for a drive while Mugs stopped by McDonalds to pick up some fast food. Zeke kept asking “Daddy, is this the Manry family vehicle?” I kept saying “Yes, I bought a new car.” He was very relieved to see Mugs drive up. Pointing to the van, he stated “This is the Manry family vehicle!” After thinking about it for a bit, he declared that the new car is “the slug car.”  So now I drive the slug car to the commuter lot, park, and get in line with the other slugs. On the days I need to drive to work, I stop by the lot and pick up slugs.

Yesterday was a slug day. The line was very short in the morning, and I waited no more than 5 minutes before getting a ride. That afternoon, the line for pickup at the Pentagon was much longer. I probably should have stayed in the office another 30 minutes before getting in line. But you know how we government employees are… always watching the clock! Anyway, the ride home was uneventful, and I had a little nap. Back at the lot, I got in the slug car and drove home. When I parked in the garage and got out, I realized I had left my bag in the car I rode in from the Pentagon. I didn’t have time to do anything about it because the kids’ school was having a skate night at the rink last night. So we ate dinner and went skating. I’m still sore this morning, but that’s another story.

When we got home, there was a message on the answering machine from the driver saying he had found my bag in his car. The tag in the bag had my name and our old Wisconsin address (from Grad School). He looked me up in the phonebook and gave me a call. He offered to meet me at the commuter lot right then to return the bag. Mugs gave me a bar of Swiss chocolate she bought at the commissary to give as a thank you. I met him at the lot 5 minutes later and exchanged 1 bar of chocolate for my bag. He laughed when I gave him the chocolate. Mugs felt sorry for me and gave me a box of Sees chocolates when I got home!

Sep 11 2008

Garage Door

Posted by Mugs @ 1:05 pm in Commute,Family Print This Post Print This Post

It’s quite humorous to now experience the same events as my husband and then read his viewpoint of them.  His first day of commute from his perspective had a few problems…to me, it was a disaster.  Hence the wise advice of always having two or more witnesses.  He had gotten his motorcycle running over the weekend, so I was still in bed when he attempted to leave for work.  There are plenty of dedicated wives who get up in the morning and make their husband’s breakfast and kiss him goodbye.  And then, I am quite sure that there is at least one lazy wife who sleeps in as late as possible and does not get out of bed until she needs to wake the kids and feed them.  So, I came awake to the sound of an engine being turned over and over and over with no hope of starting.  I got up, got dressed, grabbed my purse, and got in the van.  My husband reluctantly put his motorcycle back in the garage.  He had been running late already because the night prior, he had not shaved off his two weeks of beard growth.  In the past, he had always shaved off his beard the night before he went back to work.  However, after being forced to shave every day for an entire year, he wanted to hold onto his beard as long as possible.  I told him to keep the mustache, but he wouldn’t.  He should of joined the Navy.  I think they let you grow a beard in the Navy.  I’ve always wondered why you can’t have a beard in the Army.  I use the “No Beards in the Army” rule as motivation for him to retire from the Army.  “When you get out of the Army, you can grow a beard,” I tell him.  Now, I have to add, “But you might have to dye it.”  A friend I haven’t seen for 10+ years asked me if I had gotten old.  I told him, “I must have because I now have an old husband.”  Anyway, I dropped Dale off to stand in the long slug line approximately 40 minutes later than he had hoped to be standing there.  Afterwards, I dropped the kids off at school.  Later on that day, upon returning from picking Zeke up from preschool, I heard a loud metal on metal screeching sound that made Zeke and I jump.  I had no idea what it was, so I stood in the garage momentarily confused.  I had just opened the sliding door on the van and a large truck was driving by.  When I didn’t see a giant scratch on the van, I assumed the truck was dragging something on the road.  I then went inside.  After 2 hours home, Zeke and I loaded back up in the car to pick up the other kids.  My garage door refused to move and after several futile attempts to lift it myself, I realized I wasn’t going anywhere.  I called the school first and asked a friend to bring the kids home.  I then called the company who had put in the garage door.  “There was a loud screeching noise and now my garage door won’t open,” I told the girl on the phone.  “You probably broke a spring.  Look above the door, ” she replied.  I looked and sure enough a spring was broken.  “Can you please send someone out to fix it?” I asked.  “No. Sorry.  All our repairmen are done for the day.  We’ll send someone tomorrow,” she said.  “It’s 3pm and you advertise 24 hour emergency repair.  My car is stuck in my garage,” I replied.  “Maybe someone can help you lift the door,” she said.  “Thanks for you help,” I said.  I hung up and decided that it was silly of me to think 24 hour emergency service should involve the hours between 3pm and 8am.  I was now seeing visions of Dale arriving at the slug lot and having to walk home to finish off his terrible first day commute.  The kids arrived home and my friend who had experienced a broken garage door spring before informed me of the best way to tackle the problem.  Josiah, Abby, Gabe and I spaced ourselves along the garage door.  With a “Lay Hold…Heave” we got it moving.  I was soon covered in sweat and irritation, but it wouldn’t stay up.  Abby, who had sore arms the next day, and Josiah then stood on a ladder to hold the door in place while I backed out of the garage with Gabe as ground guide.  We all then lowered it back down.  I left to pick up Dale, who inspite of all the days problems was now a firm believer in slugging.  The next morning two guys came to replace the springs.  They lifted the door and hooked it in place like it was the simplest task in the world.  Once again, I observed how to do a task simply and compared it to my effort to accomplish the same task.  I have a great ability to make everything more difficult than it is.  It must be part of the Meloch gene.  I mentioned to the guys how loud it was when the spring broke.  To which one replied, “Yeh, it’s even louder when it breaks in your face.”  I thought it best to keep my 7 hour emergency repair comment to myself.

Sep 04 2008

First Day at the Pentagon

Posted by Dale @ 4:41 am in Commute,Pentagon,Work Print This Post Print This Post

Today was my much anticipated first day at my new assignment at the Pentagon. This morning was also my first time slugging. The slug lines are informal carpools that form to take advantage of the HOV lanes going into DC. There are two lots about 1/2 mile from our house where drivers pick up extra passengers so that they meet the 3-person minimum for using the HOV lanes. The HOV trip to the Pentagon from Stafford is about 45 minutes. During heavy traffic, in the regular lanes, this can easily take two hours. The driver benefits by the savings of time while the passengers receive a free ride. You can read more about this at

Last week I cleaned up my motorcycle, put in some gas from the can, charged the battery and tried to get it started after sitting in the garage for the past year. But as Mugs already posted, I couldn’t get it to start. I ended up buying a new battery earlier this week, and the bike started up very easily after that. We planned for Mugs to drop me off at the slug line in the morning and pick me up in the afternoon. I didn’t want to ride my motorcycle to/from the lot because then I would have to lug around my full-face helmet and leather jacket all day. Yesterday I decided that the solution was to buy a half-helmet. Since the lot is so close to the house, I can wear a half-helmet with the ACUs and leave the leather jacket at home. Here’s a picture of me the day before going back to work.

Dale with Bike

Dale with Bike

I got up at 0500 this morning to walk Blaze, planning on riding over to the slug lot at 0600. By the time I fed and walked Blaze, it was already 0545. Normally after a period of leave, I shave the beard off the night before going back to work. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that this time. I was still shaving at 0600 when Mugs got up to start getting ready for the day. I eventually got out the door around 0620. Then my bike wouldn’t start. I must have drained the little bit of fuel I put in the tank while I was on my test ride yesterday. Anyway, at 0630, Mugs came out and gave me a ride to the slug lot.

There were probably about 20 people standing in the Pentagon line when I arrived. The line moved quickly, and within 10 minutes, I was next in line. A car pulled up to the front of the line, the driver said “Pentagon”, I got in the car with the next guy in line, and we headed to the Pentagon. Fortunately, I had read the rules and etiquette for slugging online and understood that conversation while slugging is not permitted unless the driver initiates it. After a nice, quiet 50 minute drive, I was dropped off at the Pentagon steps at 0730 for my first day of inprocessing. The post is already quite long, so I won’t go into any details on my first day of work. I also won’t talk about the garage door breaking for Mugs (she can post that). After 1 day of inprocessing I have 3 new security badges and 0 computer accounts. At 1600, I walked out to the Pentagon parking lot and stood in the Stafford – Rte 610 line. By 1645, I was back in Stafford and waiting for Mugs to pick me up at the lot.

Tomorrow I might get some computer accounts, but maybe I shouldn’t rush it!