Saturday, December 02, 2006

alright. time for take two.

i was supposed to leave town for the weekend yesterday at 3:30, on a train. getting to the train station was crazy enough anyway. i left my pretrial final negotiation1, and planned to take the metrolink train to the amtrak station. i went to the big bend stop, stood there for a few minutes, and a security guard appeared. the security guard told me that the trains were not running down the new shrewsbury line because of the weather.2 i was informed that i'd have to go to the forest park station and catch the train there.

going to forest park wasn't a huge problem. i just walked over, caught the #1 bus on campus, and took it to the forest park station. i walked down to the train platform, and there was a train that was slated to go as far as east riverfront. awesome. that would take me right to the kiel centre stop3, and i'd be at the train station in no time. it was 1:50, the train trip to the kiel centre stop would be no more than fifteen, twenty minutes, and then i'd be there in plenty of time to grab my ticket from the ticket window, unwind, and catch my train that was supposed to leave at 3:30.

and then i sit. i sit. i sit on that train for almost an hour. the conductor keeps telling us that it will move when she gets the authorization. it never moves. finally, it's 2:35. i'm freaking out, because my train is supposed to be leaving in less than an hour, and i'm still sitting inside a stationary train at the corner of pershing and debaliviere. i start calling cab companies. the lines are busy. finally, i call my friend hilary, almost in hysterics, and she comes and drives me to the amtrak station. she was a lifesaver.

so, it's 3:10, and i get to the train station. i thought the nightmare was over...i was at the train station on time, i was going to soon be on a train, on the way to my destination.

i pick up my ticket from the window...and i'm informed that my train has been delayed until 6:45 or 7. sigh. that was a bummer, although not entirely unexpected. i sit down to wait. the train station is full of extremely weary, extremely agitated travellers, since there was the one delayed westbound train that i was on, and two delayed northbound trains to chicago.

then, around 4:15, the train station staff made an encouraging announcement. the chicago trains were cancelled and being replaced by buses, but the kansas city train would be leaving at 5:30. it was good news. they told us the train was coming up on the kirkwood stop. kirkwood is a suburb of st. louis, which meant the train was almost to the station.

and then...the train just stayed in kirkwood. it stopped outside of kirkwood for about three hours. it just didn't move. they didn't tell us why it was stopped outside of kirkwood for three hours, but it was. first they said it would be here at 7. then, they didn't say anything.

at 7:10, they finally told us that the train was moving again. but, they also told us that if the train didn't get to st. louis by 7:35, they had to swap out the crew, since the crew had been on the train for as long as it legally could. there was an outside chance it could make it to st. louis if it sped and didn't run into another train, because according to the schedule, the train normally takes 29 minutes to get from kirkwood to st. louis

no amount of the passengers' finger-crossing could make it happen. at 7:35, the staff announced that the train didn't make it, that it had to stop, and they had to change the crews. a little before eight, finally, they announced that the crew had changed, and the train was on its way again. we saw the train pull into the station, gathered our bags, and lined up to board. it was now 8:15--i was supposed to have arrived at my destination at 7:39. but, finally, the annoyance was over.

or, it wasn't. the train station staff announced that we could not board the train, and they had to decide what they were doing with that train. that confused us, as they had been telling us all night that when that train arrived from kansas city, it would be turning back around and going toward kansas city. a few minutes after that announcement, they said the words that i'd been dreading, the words that i really didn't want to hear--they cancelled the train.

they cancelled the train, and they didn't even replace it with a bus. there was no way that amtrak passengers would get westbound last night. so, i had to change my ticket and go home. i now have a ticket for the 8:30 train this morning, and i'm writing this from the train station. i'm coming back on monday instead of on sunday...there was absolutely no way i was going to deal with the transportation nightmare that i dealt with yesterday, and only stay there one night. it wasn't going to happen.

they tell me this morning's train is supposed to run on time. it's encouraging, since unlike last night, i see trains on the tracks outside the train station. still, after yesterday's rigmarole, i'll believe it when it's 8:30 and i'm sitting on a westbound train chugging along the tracks.

***
1 i'm glad it's over. the more i have to negotiate for law school classes, the more i realise that naturally being an insufferable bitch and having to negotiate don't necessarily go very well together.

2 this is more proof that st. louis is not a real city. we only got a little bit of snow. granted, there was quite a bit of ice, but st. louis does get ice storms on a regular basis--and st. louis didn't get hit nearly as badly as the weather people thought, or nearly as badly as many other cities in the midwest. the city should be ready for ice storms, and build its public transit to run even after an ice storm.

3 yes. i know. it's called the scottrade centre now, and it was called the savvis centre before that. but, for some reason, i got used to calling it the kiel centre, because all the signs at the metrolink stop still say kiel on them. i'm a stick in the mud. i know this.

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