All Aboard! … Jury Is Still Out

Last weekend, my Ohio great-granddaughter Addison was dedicated {like a baptism in a non-denominational church}. I decided to be an eye witness, so I spent last weekend in the Buckeye State.

Getting there is always an interesting challenge, especially since I enjoy the open road. But I looked into the train again {I used Amtrack when I went to Illinois last summer}. The jury is still out.

Given my age, the round trip from Syracuse to Toledo was actually less than gas. Check one for the train. No tolls. Check two for the train. Scheduled travel time was about the same. Wash. Wear and tear on this old body. I’ll call it a wash, although on the train I was able to get a few winks. Convenience. No contest … driving wins hands down.

I am not particularly a patient “waiter”. I get antsy just sitting around a station for more than, say, five minutes. With the train, my station wait time is less than by air {which is a big reason I don’t fly}. Typically, especially with smaller stations, as long as you’ve pre-printed your ticket and you make it before the train leaves the station, you’re A-OK. I usually figure about a half hour.

But you do have a schedule to meet. In my case, the train left Syracuse at 9:41 p.m. for a 5:55 a.m. arrival in Toledo. We left Syracuse a little late, reached Cleveland about an hour behind schedule and pulled into Toledo at 7:40 a.m. My daughter was supposed to pick me up, but had an event at church, so my son-in-law was picking me up. Thank God for texting so we could coordinate arrival time. I just don’t like to be dependent like that. {When I went to Chicago, I rented a car … but that arrival was a couple of hours late too and they almost gave the car away.}

The return trip was scheduled for a 3:20 a.m. Toledo departure and an 11:38 a.m. Syracuse arrival. My grandson took me to the train station in the wee hours Monday. The train was an hour and a half late leaving Chicago, so it was an hour and a half late getting to Toledo. Actually it was an hour and 40 minutes late because the train chugged out of Toledo at 5 a.m. We were three hours behind by the time we got to Buffalo. The train hit a pedestrian in Perinton (Fairport) and was stalled for accident reconstruction for another three hours. It finally reached Syracuse at 7:46 p.m. — eight hours and 12 minutes past its posted arrival time.

That’s a work day! And that’s what I missed … a work day and a 5 p.m. meeting.

Now, I can’t blame the train for the unfortunate sequence of events — although I do think they have to adjust their schedules. I could have been — and have been — delayed on the road. Last time I went to New Jersey I was stuck in a traffic backup for over an hour. Hey, that’s the excitement of long distance travel.

Driving also would have allowed me the luxury of picking what time I left and what time I arrived. I might have left earlier Friday night than 9:41 … say more like 3 or 4 or 5. I certainly wouldn’t have started my return at 3:20 in the morning.

But, here’s the thing about train travel — or at least my take. In my car, there were four children under the age of five. Obviously, they were getting louder and playful the longer the car sat. Not one person — from the college kids to the crotchety old men like me — complained. The mothers — and they all traveled alone — congregated together and just let the kids play and be kids. No yelling. No histrionics. Maybe an occasional time out when they started jumping from seat to seat … but that’s it. Even as passengers climbed over them in the aisle as they headed to or from the club car, they smiled or patted the kids on the head or shared a kind word with the moms. No one complained. Well, there was a vegetarian who complained when they handed out a complimentary beef stew bowl … but that had nothing to do with the wait. Besides, I think she was Canadian.

Going out also had a lot of kids in the car. They zonked out quickly with nary a cry. I wish I could have slept like that.

Many of the poor folks were continuing on to New York City. I shutter to think when they made their arrival in Penn Station. Yet, no one complained. Some joked about having an extra day on their vacation. Another guy shrugged, “I thought a two day travel window from Chicago to New York would be enough.” After the accident, just about everyone on the train was using social media to find out what was happening and relaying up to the minute updates as they flashed across their phones, tablets or computers. It was like one, big, happy {and tired} family.

That’s a big plus in train travel. You get to meet some interesting fellow travelers, all with a ready and willing story to tell. It’s not like that in airports and planes.

So, if you want to travel with great people, take the train. You’ll get from point A to point B … eventually. And if you are unavoidably delayed, they’ll treat you to some snacks {animal cheese-its, salted almonds, cookies and a bottle of water} and a hot meal {beef stew over rice}. You could mix and match and trade with your new-found friends.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in encouragement, family, observations, relationships, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to All Aboard! … Jury Is Still Out

  1. Deanna says:

    Hey! I know it was early in the morning, but I was the one who took you to the train station in the wee hours on Monday…haha! I love your positive outlook. I would have been the only grumpy one on the train!

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