The Bright Side of an Awful Commute


The other day I spent five-and-a-half hours commuting and never made it to work. My journey was plagued by major subway shutdowns, massive bus delays and general bad luck. But two good things came out of this:

1) While waiting for a bus back to NJ, I witnessed a loud but civil argument over whether a woman had cheated on her man while he was in jail. His evidence: "There was 2 condoms gone from my Ziploc. I rest my case." (He kept repeating the second part.) They were waiting for the bus to the Meadowlands Racetrack, where they surely received all the counseling they needed.

2) Earlier in the day, during the long wait for a working subway, I finally had a chance to read "Letters from an Arsonist," a truly captivating article written by my elementary school friend Dave Jamieson. This piece won Dave the Livingston Award, which recognizes excellence by professional journalists under the age of 35. Judging by the people in the photos from the ceremony, these awards are kind of a big deal (clockwise from top left: Christiane Amanpour, DJ, Anna Quindlen and Clarence Page; Al Gore and Tom Brokaw were also involved).

Dave won in the Local Reporting category:

Dave Jamieson, 29, of the Washington City Paper, for "Letters From an Arsonist," an investigative account and narrative about serial arsonist, Thomas Sweatt. From his prison cell, he confided to Jamieson in long handwritten letters details of his crimes and the motives behind them. Sweatt set more than 350 fires over 25 years in Washington D.C., taking at least two lives and costing the city millions of dollars before he was arrested and sentenced to two life terms in the federal penitentiary.

If I had my own awards show, this would be nominated in the "best articles I've read this year" category (even though it was written last year). Now we need to convince Dave to come slum it with us here on the blog.

If you anticipate any commuting problems of your own, print this out.