Riding The Rails

ms picture 12I have done some stupid things in my life. Not the reckless and/or dangerous kind of stupid, but rather the just shake my head and go hmmm kind of stupid. Some of these incidents of poor judgment are too funny not to share. Although, what happened was not so funny at the time. They are stories where my true blonde roots are clearly showing. So here we go…

Shortly after being diagnosed with MS, Rob and I took a trip to Chicago to see a specialist at the University of Chicago. Neither Rob nor I wanted to drive around in the Chicago traffic or worry about parking, etc., so we decided to take the Amtrak train to and from home. The trip to Chicago went as planned with no major hiccups. However, the trip home was a different story. At some point, the weather had gone south and a tornado had touched down along the train route home. There were trees and limbs on the tracks and we would have to stop many times. In other words, it was going to be a long trip home. The train stopped in South Bend, Indiana for what we were told was an extended period while the crew cleared the debris from the rails. We were told we could leave the train, but not the train station. I decided to get off the train and call our neighbor who was dog sitting Max, our black Lab. I wanted him to keep him over night, knowing we would be late in getting home. This was before cell phones, so I had to use a payphone in the station. I had just started to dial when I heard the train whistle blow. I hung up the phone and hauled my hiney back to the train. It was getting ready to leave the station, WITHOUT ME! The train car doors were closed and locked. I started banging on the doors as hard as I could, but the train started moving anyway. A face appeared in the window and I was sure it was my husband to the rescue. I looked at him and he looked at me as the train continued to roll on. I finally reached the end of the platform and watched the train leave without me. I was stuck in Indiana. Worse than that, my purse was on the train, with all my money and credit cards. Now what was I going to do? I trudged back to the station and was met by a surly and stern faced attendant. I explained my situation to an uncaring and unsympathetic woman, whom after listening to my distress replied, “So…what do you want me to do about it?” and “You shouldn’t have left the train…” Did she really just say that to me? I want back on the train, you stupid Hun! I was now close to a homicidal rage and she had just shredded my last nerve. The attendant must have noticed the blood lust gleam in my eyes and decided she had better get to helping me reconnect with the train. After all, we were told it was okay to get off the train since we were going to be there a while. Damn straight, you Hun…waddle over to that phone and fix this…NOW! She called the train and was told by the conductor that they were being forced to stop again in Dowagiac, Michigan…a few miles away. If I could meet the train at the station, I could board the train and continue on my way. It was a solid plan, or so I thought! She then called a cab for me and Reggie the Reggae Rastafarian showed up. Reggie (yes that was his real name) had long dreadlocks and smelled like weed. He had Bob Marley playing on the radio and looked like he just stepped off the boat from the islands. His “taxi” was a converted VW bus with a spray painted sign that read “Taxi” on the side. OMG-this is the guy who was going to get me to the train? Alone? I was finally convinced that Reggie the Reggae Rastafarian was the only cab willing to shuttle me across state lines. It was either ride with him or I had to wait until the next train to come through in about 12 hours. I stepped into the “cab” which also smelled like weed. I hoped that the contact high I was sure to get would ease my fears. Alas, it did not. Reggie the Reggae Rastafarian WAS from the islands and was not very familiar with the area. He then asked ME where the train station was. Huh?? How would I know how to get there…?? Finally, after getting some directions, we were off. Reggie the Reggae Rastafarian informed me that he was afraid of traveling on the highway (was he illegal?) and that we had to drive on the back roads. Did I mention that there was a tornado? Did I mention that there was debris all over? The debris was all over the back roads, but the highways were clear. This fact did not faze Reggie. So what if there was a tree in the road…we can go around it. It was also pitch black because the power was out. I just knew my life was going to end in that pot smoke filled VW van. Reggie was careful and we managed to get to the station. However, we were too late. The train had come and gone, or so we were told. It was then decided that Reggie the Reggae Rastafarian would drive me the entire way home, about 180 miles! Several more hours of driving the back roads in the dark van, inhaling the herb fumes, listening to Reggie singing Reggae. Why, oh why, did I get off the train? After many hours, we finally made it home and I was dropped of at the train station. Reggie then informed me that the taxi fare would be over $700 and how did I want to pay for that. Ummmm, not! I had no purse, no cash, no credit cards…nothing! It was all on the train that was not there. I finally raised enough hell that Amtrak paid Reggie the Reggae Rastafarian his $700 cab fare and he disappeared in his pot smoke smelling van. It was then that I was told that the train was still near Dowagiac and I could have met up with it there. Honestly, are people actually paid to work for Amtrak? Is there ANY communication between the station and the conductor? Oh well, they paid the cab fare and I arrived safe and sound. It took over four hours for Rob to show up. Since the power was out, the train had to stop at every railroad crossing and the attendant got out to wave a lantern to stop any possible car on the mostly deserted roadways. At every crossing…for 180 miles. Just before the train arrived home, due to some vague rule in the Amtrak staff labor agreement, they could not work one more minute or be in violation. Rob told me that the train stopped in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere, and in the very early hours of the morning to let the old staff leave and a new staff board. He finally arrived and we set off for home. Rob was surly and I was still happy from my contact high, but strangely hungry. Despite cleaning out the snack table at the train station. Who knew that pot gave you the munchies! A few days after our ordeal, Amtrak issued a formal apology and offered us free tickets to any destination. Yeah, right! Like I will ever set foot on a train again…EVER!

About msdoesnothaveme

I am a wife of many years to Rob. I am a mom to Ryan and Will. I am the custodian of THE CATS, Dizzy(a.k.a Nugget), Dinky, and Doofus. I have Secondary Progressive MS. I am also known as and answer to: Your Majesty, Hell on Wheels, Hey You, and Oh No, Not Her Again. I drink beer from a bottle, swear like a sailor, and open presents on Christmas morning.
This entry was posted in happy thought, humor, humour, memories, ms, multiple sclerosis and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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