Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Let me start off my saying that I love to travel. When I was 19, I packed up two bags and studied abroad in Australia for 5 ½ months without knowing a single soul. I’ve traveled through Europe and taken multiple plane trips within the US solo-dolo and have been as happy as a clam. Keep that in mind while you read my story.
It all started in Tampa on Super Bowl Sunday when I ended my vacation visiting college friends for the weekend. I had a 3:30 flight with US Airways (frequent flyer, holla!) that landed in Charlotte, N.C. with an hour layover and a connector up to Boston. When I landed in N.C., I found out that my flight, as well as all other flights to Boston, had been cancelled due to the impending storm. Okay, no biggie—I thought—I’ll go visit my cousin in Baltimore for the time being until the travel ban has been lifted.
At this point in the story, I will save you from all of the gory details of making friends in the 2 hour customer service line and having the line held up for 45 minutes by two entitled, cat-bearing, hairy, 20-somethings complaining that there wasn’t a “magical phone” to call down to baggage claim to collect their baggage. It’s quite boring and involves a lot of eye rolls from yours truly, a dying phone, and a dog the size of my fist. I digress.
Long story short, I got a flight from Charlotte to D.C., where my cousin would pick me up, and a flight from D.C. to Boston the next night at 6:30pm. Mind you, the attendant tried to book me for a 6:30am flight, not understanding that it was going to be SNOWING all day. He was an imbecile who took three bathroom breaks in two hours and insisted that I was “the boss.” I don’t remember your name sir, but you sucked.
Fast forward to when I landed in D.C. and some b!tch says she’s catching a flight to Boston—cue me and five other passengers jumping down her throat with hate, all wondering why HER plane can fly into Logan when OURS couldn’t. She wasn’t the Queen of Sheba like Marlo Fogelman! (NOTE: if you don’t know Marlo’s awesome customer service flight story, inquire now.) Half of me wanted to shank this girl while the other half of me was so tired (and sad that in my dazed stupor I had left my new “Orange is the New Black” book on the last plane) that I just couldn’t care, so I met up with my cousin and passed out upon arrival.
The next day, as I expected, my flight to Boston at 6:30pm got cancelled. Shocker. After talking to multiple different sources, I decided to try my hand at taking Amtrak, considering that planes were seriously failing me at this point. I promptly booked an overnight train from 10:40pm out of BWI that would arrive in Back Bay at 7:55am, giving this girl ample time to get a breakfast sandwich, mosey into work, and still have some time to put myself together. This is the part of the story that you should actually start reading, because you will never believe it…
I arrive at the BWI Amtrak station at 10:15pm. I go inside, print my ticket for safekeeping, ask the attendant how I will know when the train is arriving, and even go as far as to go on the track my train was set to arrive on. Although I’m neurotic, my cousin is worse and at that point we weren’t f#&king around. In the end, the train arrived 35 minutes late—whatever—I ride the MBTA every day, this is normal.
Allow me to paint this picture for you… there are 12 of us on the platform when the train pulls in. We all hover around two sets of doors, waiting for a conductor to open the doors and let us on. Down the platform near the first class food service truck, I see a conductor shooting the sh!t with whoever was up there. Two people get off and I keep thinking to myself, someone will open the doors any second now. After a few sassy comments and a man walking down towards the conductor to inquire about getting on the train, we hear “Train 66, we’re ready to go” *closes door* the train begins moving. Imagine standing there, watching your one ticket home just pulling off into the distance… if you guessed, it’s a horrible feeling. (Note: I should’ve known that a train numbered 66 was sent by the devil. Also, at NO POINT in time did he say “All Aboard!” or “Train to Boston!” because that would only make sense?)
The 12 of us, filled with anger and confusion, walk back to the ghetto station and knock on the door that is now chained and padlocked. I’m going to write timestamps so you understand how this all unfolds. Keep in mind; we were waiting outside to get into the station for 25 minutes in 20 degree weather. Enjoy:
11:20pm: Train leaves without us.
11:22pm: We knock on the door. “We’re closed,” says the attendant, Bertha, through the door. We tell Bertha what happened. Pissed off, she goes back behind bulletproof glass to “figure things out” while the state cop hangs out with her inside and we are huddled by the door watching in disbelief.
11:25pm: I call my dad explaining the situation, he is thoroughly unamused.
11:26-11:38pm: I wait outside with complete strangers, a sketchy “cab driver” who is insisting he will take five people up to NYC for $80 each, and a toothless man who picks a fight with my cousin about her parking her car illegally, to which he tries to call the cop outside to give her a ticket. Picture my petite, white, platinum blonde, Baltimore-raised cousin going 0-100 telling the man off, but eventually moving her car. It was sticky. Oh did I also mention that the cop came over to us, would only talk to us THROUGH the door, and insisted he couldn’t let us in? Yeah.
11:39pm: Bertha comes back out to tell us that she has coordinated a “special stop” for us on a train that can bring us to Washington. Lol only we were all trying to go North. She’s now reaaaaally pissed off. Shame on you, Bertha, for not asking train details. Shame on you.
11:40-11:48pm: More waiting and b!tching outside.
11:49pm: Cop all of a sudden has a magic key that opens the pad-locked and chained door to let us into the warm station.
11:51pm: Bertha has us line up and show her our tickets, not explaining what the plan is. A few of my 12 new friends begin calling an Uber to drive them up to NYC, because that is totally 100% safe.
11:53pm: I hear in the line that Bertha is sending us to Washington to then have us turn around and take a Washington train up to Boston. Cue tears. I’m scared, now. Not only have I NEVER taken Amtrak, but half of my new friends are leaving me, and I’ll be in Washington at 3:30am. Doesn’t exactly sound like a party to me.
11:54pm: My cousin finds a 7:00am flight home on Southwest Airlines for $171 to which I throw my credit card at her and jump up to tell Bertha I will NOT be taking this absurd route to Boston.
11:56pm: We leave and I call my dad to give him the scoop.
2:14am: I receive a voicemail from Amtrak stating that they had received word that passengers were not being let on train from Washington to Boston at 3:30 in the morning because of a misunderstanding in communication. Are you f%&king KIDDING ME? Thank GOD I didn’t take the train, I’m not sure if I would’ve made it home alive.
4:45am: Wake up, drive to the airport, and the rest is history
Now hear me out. This Amtrak disaster was NOT due to weather, but due to the fact that Amtrak employees were NOT doing their job. Because of that, 12 of us were stranded and left outside to fend for ourselves until Amtrak cleaned up their own mess. I was lucky enough to have family to stay with, but many were left without many options of housing or travel.
When I got into work on Tuesday, I called Amtrak and spoke with the only competent and helpful Amtrak employee I’ve come in contact with to date, Lou. He reimbursed my ticket and gave me information about having my plane ticket reimbursed, as it was an unnecessary payment that I wouldn’t have had to make IF THE CONDUCTOR HAD DONE HIS JOB.
So I ask of you m.blog readers—please share my story and laugh over the absolutely absurdity of the whole ordeal. When you think the MBTA is bad, just think of me—standing on a platform at 11:20pm in Baltimore s t r a n d e d. Worst end to a vacation, ever. I will never take or attempt to take Amtrak again, as they f%&king suck and they BEST be refunding my plane ticket. That’s right John Wojciechowski—you’ll be getting a letter from me.
Posted by Emily