I have left DC.
My last stint with Amtrak (roughly this time last year) was filled with delays and inconveniences, so many so that I found myself damn near 3 days late to my arrival in San Francisco. It seemed that at every turn we were stopping; up the east coast from DC to Chicago disputes between Amtrak and the freight companies that control the lines meant that all passenger trains needed to yield the line to freight. Freight is also union in the USA, so when they were done with a shift those trains simply stopped, clogging the lines for the rest of us. Just before the Rockies, a mudslide clogged the line, causing us to wait in Denver for five hours, only to then divert into Wyoming, missing the scenic part of the train ride.
Just to prove that I cannot learn my lessons, I have decided to Amtrak across the US again.
Amtrak certainly did not disappoint me. Less than 45 min out of DC the train makes an emergency stop, the kind that fills all the cabin cars with scorched rubber smell of brake pads under strain. We were told that ‘there had been an incident involving the train, that did not put the train or the passengers in any peril’ and that we would ‘be stopped while the authorities completed their investigation.’ Most of us sat there in irritated ignorance, but information soon leaked to us that the train had hit a pedestrian. This unfortunately did nothing to placate the loud passenger who was already up in arm about how he personally was being inconvenienced, and how he was going to demand a full refund. I told him about my problems last year with Amtrak, and instead of backing down he uped his bravado with claims of knowing ‘a really powerful lawyer’. Sure buddy, I’m sure he is already fighting tooth and nail to get you your $85 back from Amtrak. He didn’t change his tune when we found out that the pedestrian was a teenager, nor that his parents were with them when it happened. As far as he was concerned, they should have just kept going after running someone over.
I was glad that asshole wasn’t continuing with me past Chicago.
The second leg of the trip was uneventful. I watched some movies (Exit through the gift shop, Kill the messenger) and plowed through a 600 page novel. About how I wanted to pass the time. T-Mobile apparently does not exist in North Dakota and Montana, so I spent the whole second day cut off from the world. Better get used to it.
It’s raining in Seattle. Go figure.