Friday, April 10, 2009

Like a Bond Movie

My train trip was so screwed up yesterday that one woman described it as being 'like a Bond movie.' Secret directives, last minute changes, mass confusion.

What was supposed to happen was I was supposed to get up at 6 AM, leave for the train at 7, and get on at 8. Easy peasy. Then the train would take me from Anaheim to Santa Barbara, and from there I'd board an Amtrak bus to San Luis Obispo.

So I buy my ticket and the clerk tells me there has been a freight train derailment in La Mirada, and he's not sure if we'll have a 10 minute delay or 2 hours or what as they clean debris from the tracks. At that point I almost turned around to ask my boyfriend to just take me home, but he already had an appointment to get his truck smog check done at 8:30 AM and then on to work, so all he had time to do was drop me off.

So he walked me and my 2 heavy bags up the stairs to the platform and left.
Not five minutes later this mother with a screaming child that is sitting far far away decided to bring this child and sit right next to me. This kid is just screaming and the mother is doing nothing to comfort her. The woman barely speaks English but finally I gather she's telling me the kid is tired. But I figure the train is due in 10 minutes.

Well the train finally gets there. By then I moved far away from the still screaming child. I go to get on the train. The doors open and everyone is filing off. At first I think they are just gathering around the platform, and then I realize they've all paraded down stairs and lined up by the building. This I realize I'm now going to be in line for a bus at the end of 200 other people.

So I find a conductor and ask what is going on. He tells me the train is out of service and I need to go downstairs to find out what to do next. Supposedly in 2 hours busses will come get us.

I need to cut some of the story out or this will be way too long.
First I was told that people that were going to Santa Barbara and points beyond needed to go catch a train due at 9 AM leaving in five minutes. So I lug everything up to the platform again. Then I get there with about 50 other people. Then they announce that on second thought we are all to catch the bus. So I lug it all down again and now I'm at the end of the line again of all the people that had stayed in the bus line.

At this point taxies have swarmed the place, obviously getting wind that many were stranded. Only no one was getting in the taxies so these guys were all standing in the parking lot smoking and looking surly.

Meanwhile 2 giant busses have arrived but they can't do a u-turn because of construction, and they can't back out because of all the other busses and pedestrians milling everywhere, so they won't let us board but send us back to the patio again.

By then I'm starving. It's almost 10 AM, and I haven't had breakfast. I wait 20 minutes for the busses to back up and they never move. So I go inside and try to use the vending machine to at least get some cookies. The cookies are $1.25 and the machine only takes dollar bills. I only have one bill and one twenty. Considering my luck no way I'm putting a twenty in there. So I set my stuff on a chair, and I'm digging through my purse. I have a handful of change in one hand and stuff in the other when I see the crowds suddenly surging towards the busses. (Insert swear word here).

Anyway I'm finally on the bus. I have my journal on my lap and I am opening a can of Mt.Dew I had in my purse, when my cell rings. Ack! I'm juggling pen, phone, pad and full can and somehow I manage to get the phone and only spill a little. So it's my boyfriend. I'm telling him I'm still in Anaheim and now I'm on a bus. Then suddenly the bus moves, my journal goes flying off my lap and my cellphone is launched down the aisle. (Insert swear word here). I was expecting the driver to at least greet us and make the usual speech about no cellphone use, and welcome aboard. But no...he starts backing out without a word.

Soon we are on a freeway. I'm writing everything down in my journal when I glance up and see I'm once again right by my house. So in the 3 hours since I left home to catch the train, I'm now right back where I started.

When I got off the bus in Santa Barbara, I was expecting to catch the bus that was originally the 2nd half of my trip. But they hand us a letter and tell us we are to catch the Coastline train that is coming into the station and hand that conductor our permission slip. So as I'm rushing to that train, a black woman is passing me the other way and she says, "Man this is like a James Bond movie." And I say yeah, and we even have secret directives," and I wave my permission slip at her.
So the train arrives, and you never know just where they are going to stop. It's a very long train. Right in front of me is the snackbar window and a man is standing there. He says we can pick either end but we can't board there. So I lug everything to the far right end. I get there and the conductor tells us all, "You can't board here, this is the sleeping car." So you guess it, I have to lug everything to the very left end of the train.

Now the Coast Starliner is an old train, and all the seating is upstairs. All the bathrooms and the exits are downstairs. The stairwell is very narrow and has sharp right angle turns. I decide to be safe to carry one bag down at a time. Going down I managed to bang my knee on the sharp turn. You know how bad it hurts when you hit your funny bone in your elbow? Well, that's how my knee felt only 10 times more. I thought I was going to black out. I'm standing there, in pain, I can move neither down nor up. Eventually the pain passed, and I got to sit down in the handicapped section, knowing full well I'd now have to go up the stairs again to get my other suitcase. Thankfully my knee still worked. I wasn't at all sure it would.

So I finally get to the San Luis Station at 3:30. My daughter was supposed to pick me up at 2 before the schedule went to hell. Now she's smack dab in the middle of a doctor appt. So I have to wait another half hour.

This morning I was having a nightmare. My boyfriend kept pushing on my back to make me feel better, and I kept saying, "Ow, that hurts. Stop it." But he wouldn't stop and I kept yelling. Then I woke up and realized my back was killing me. No doubt from doing ten times the luggage juggling I normally do on those trips.
I gotta get a car.

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