An old school chum invited me down to DC
a navy medic at walter reed
a nice weekend at his digs
driving his car, fun visit and reunion
swimming with his pals, discovering the area
then morning wake up and the last minute ride to the train station!
The missed train
a long wait at Washington DC union station
the late arrival of the train from hell…
It was only the second year of
Amtrak’s start up.
The equipment was bequeathed by the former lines
the coaches were old, engines were tired
only the name of the new passenger service was new.
Where are the seats?
the train was already crowded
nearly all the seats were taken
and as we moved up the northeast corridor
to Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, and New York, New Haven…
it became even crowded as folks were now sitting in the aisles
sitting on their luggage, stepping over each other
to get to the rest rooms,
which were progressively
worse smelling by the mile
the air conditioning was not working
the conductors opened the vestibules to allow the air
to flow from the outside into the coaches
but air was hot on that labor day weekend.
tired mothers, unhappy passengers, and then
the cafe car ran out of everything!
I was trying to stay calm and cool and collected
it was the best summer I’d ever had,
recently laid off and on the dole, I mixed my job
hunting with increased time at the beach or at home
painting and treating my employment slump as a vacation
Arriving at Providence after over nine grueling hours,
I grabbed my guitar and backpack step dancing
over the passengers in the aisle
excusing myself for the awkward movement
though them to the space between the coaches
in preparation for arriving at my destination
the dutch doors were open at the top of the vestibule
doors, so I let the wind take my hair for some relief
a cute blond girl stood beside me looking out at the city
as we approached, we said nothing until aloud and
to no one in particular my voice expressed my relief…
ahhh! finally in Providence I blurted out!
the cute blond girl giggled and I turned to ask
if she was departing here as well…
no she said, not until Boston for me… sorry I said
but behind me a different voice spoke up
I am!.. said this female voice!
would you know where
the bus station is located?
I turned to see for the very first time,
the face of the woman who would
someday become my wife!
a striking and tall brunette she was
with piercing and intelligent blue eyes
obviously a traveling collage girl
how to engage her and extend a most
Yes! Got it!
Heck with directions…offer to walk her to the bus!
waiting for bus, chit chat, this and that
off to grams she says and aha!
I just happen to know of a beach not far from grams!
Should you get bored, this is my number…
but would she dare?
Three days later she did dare!
I never again considered a late train as a bad omen,
for the opportunities that are created by chance
are the stuff that stories are made of… and ironically
for so many years later having joined the railroad
it became my job to track late trains, announce them,
and to apologize to frustrated passengers,
all the while knowing that my life was changed
thanks to a late train!
a terrible trip!
but a happy ending!
note: Of course our versions of this chance meeting are never the same in the retelling!
magicjackatx © 2013.02.25