Friday, July 15, 2011

I called the MTA and got them to fix a light in my subway stop

Never Done: I called the MTA and got them to fix a light in my subway stop

There's been a light out in the stairwell coming up from my subway stop for weeks. If you come home at night, it's so dark that you can't even see where your foot should go to land on the step. And that means that you can't see if someone's waiting there to grab you, or if someone's done something on the stairs that you wouldn't like to step in. (Like that euphemism?) Usually I just get off a stop earlier, and walk home further. But the night before last was late and I was tired, and I was carrying extra bags, and I thought that maybe by now they'd fixed it, so I took the train to my stop (Prospect Park/15th Street) and the light was still out, and I was actually quite scared coming up the stairs. It was 9:35PM, and so I called 3-1-1. After I waded through their system, a 3-1-1 agent transferred me to MTA.

And then I started a whole new round of pushing 1 if I wanted to complain about the bus. Pushing 2 if I wanted to complain about the fares. Pushing 3 if I wanted to compliment the train conductors on their diction. OK, not really, but finally I got to push 0 to speak with an agent, and then I got put on hold for another 15 minutes or so. Until 10:02, to be exact. At which point I got a message saying that the office was open until 10PM and I should call back during business hours.

I laughed, I complained, I found it ridiculous, and I hoped I would find time to call the next day. And as luck would have it, my morning commute (I tried the F train again -- bad idea) took 90 minutes just to get to Columbus Circle, so rather than transfer to yet another train that could travel the speed of a rowboat, I hopped off and walked -- and called the MTA back. This time I waited about 10 minutes for an agent, and when I told her that the light is out at my station and that it is dangerous, and that the MTA should fix it, she ambled into the conversation. "A light? Where" In the stairwell? Hmmm, OK." But eventually she gathered all the info, and she thanked me and told me she would "note my concern." I didn't have high expectations for her noting, and I forgot about it until I was on the train home while it was still light out, when it still feels safe to get off at the stop with the broken light, which I expected to be still broken.

But lo and behold! The light was fixed! My call (or maybe someone else's? Or a combination?) had produced results! I had practiced Patience: Do not aggravate a situation with wasted grief, and participated in the civic process and done my part to keep the city safer (and our shoes cleaner.)

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