In general Dan and I have been blessed with good travel karma. Other than the lost luggage in Moscow and one or two other mishaps, things tend to go well for us. It was nice while it lasted, but one fateful November day my karma was gone daddy gone.
I was working in NY at the time and grabbed a shuttle to DC like I did every week. We taxied out to the runway and lined up for take-off. But it seemed like we had been on the tarmac a long time. Like a really long time. I looked around and other passengers were also fidgety and checking their watches. Every once in a while the pilot or a flight attendant would mumble something into the loud speaker and we would desperately ask around to see if anyone had caught what they were saying.
Soon it became apparent that we weren’t going to be taking off, and the plane taxied back to the gate. Storms in DC or something and now all flights were grounded until further notice. OK, stuff happens; luckily I was able to book one of the last seats on a train leaving for DC within the hour. A couple of other passengers were also headed for the train, so we shared a cab to Penn Station, where we ran furiously (even me) to make the train.
OK, so a slightly frantic morning, but no big deal and now I was finally on my way. Except that not long into the ride the train screeched to a stop, and didn’t start again. After a few uncomfortable minutes we managed to make out an announcement that the train had broken down and Amtrak was sending a “rescue train.” Unfortunately, we were told, the rescue train couldn’t take us all the way to DC, so instead it was taking us to the closest stop, Trenton. Oh goody.
Those of us who had been on the plane together stuck close to each other; we were a team by then, laser focused on getting to DC. The rescue train dropped us in Trenton where we found a mob of people boarding the train to DC. The Amtrak people said that we were getting on a train that was already nearly fully booked, so we might have to sit on the floor or something.
As it turned out, Amtrak broke every safety rule ever made, unless the Fire Marshall suddenly ruled that sitting around and blocking all exits is A-OK. But hey, I can sit on the floor for a couple of hours, I just needed to get some water. I made my way to the café car, which was no easy feat, to find what looked to be a riot. Apparently the café car had sold out in record time, and there were adults stomping their feet about their need for a hot dog.
The water was long gone, but in an amazing stroked of luck I spied a forgotten pack of M&Ms on a lower shelf and snatched them up. They would have made a fine lunch if right then a little boy behind me didn’t start crying saying he had wanted the candy. The mom was gently explaining to him that I was there first. Good grief, I had no choice but to turn around and give the candy to the kid, although I admit that I was pouting a little. OK, whatever, we’d be at Union Station in no time.
Will we ever make it home? Stay tuned for part 2…