Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Trains, Taxis, shutdown highways, a death, an assault, and a bunch of other stuff.

Every now and then, you just have a crazy set of events that require documentation.

Tonight is one of those nights for me.

It began well enough at the beautiful Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains. One of Sprinklr's teams was having an off-site and I was invited to be a guest presenter. While the team was staying there for 3 days, I planned to only stay for one.  I took the bus up with them in the morning from NYC and a car was arranged to take our CFO and me back to the city at 6pm.

We didn't arrive at the front of hotel until 6.30, but since the hotel is close to-well, nothing-we weren't too concerned about the car leaving without us.

However, when we got there, we discovered no car. After 20 minutes of trying to track down the reservation number and phone for the car company, we discovered that, in fact, no reservation had been made.

Immediately, we moved into Plan B category.

Now, my time constraint was that the last train from NYC (well, really Newark) was at 10.22 so that I could be at home Wed. morning in order to attend Nadia's school ceremony at 9am on Wednesday.

In other words, it was a "failure is not an option" night for me.

So, first we looked at "how else can we get to the city?"

First choice was to take a cab to the bus...the first of which we would not get to in time (it left from Mt. Pocono) at 7.20pm and the second of which didn't leave until 9.30pm, which would be too late.

We called some fellow Sprinklrites who had driven up, but none of them were leaving that night.

Then, we called a cab company and, fortunately, since I was travelling with the CFO, I didn't have to worry about paying too much for the cab ;-)
So, we negotiated a fixed price and set off on our way.  The GPS said it would take 2 hours to get to Penn Station, NYC which would be fine.

HOWEVER, as we made our way on I-280E, a notification popped up on my OnePlus phone from Google Now saying "traffic ahead" and suggested a detour. By the time I realized what was happening, we had missed the detour and we found ourselves in an absolute standstill. And, I mean, ABSOLUTE.

I helplessly looked at the estimated time of arrival for Penn Station and then realized that, in fact, we should go to Newark. I negotiated with the cab driver and he agreed, but the ETA in Newark didn't look good either.

It was starting to look like I'd spend the night in NYC and have to take the 3.40am (yes, you read that right) train back to DC.

By this point, we saw that the entire highway was shut down. They made EVERYBODY get off at an exit and now you have highway traffic making their way through suburban roads and, well, obviously, that's not a good mix.

We take a large detour and go down I-280 a few exits and get back on the road. The WAZE and GPS now say that we will make it to Newark at 10:18 (when the train is at 10:22).

Using all of my motivational powers, I do my best to pump up Howard (our cab driver-as my CFO is with me and has graciously agreed to the Newark detour) and we head towards the station, only to see that one of the exits is blocked by an ambulance.

We make our way around and they drop me off. I agree to text them to let them know if I made it or require a ride into the city.

I sprint to the door, which is LOCKED.

The woman behind me says, "it is locked because someone DIED in there."

So, I run down to the next entrance, with only minutes to spare and try to figure out which track to go to.

As I run in to the station, I see a woman lying on the floor 30 feet in front of me and a bunch of people screaming, "SHE WAS ATTACKED!!!"

Then, I see police running towards the scene.

Thinking that this is not something I need right now, I figure out that I'm on Track 3 and make my way up there, getting to the track at 10.21.

I look to the monitor and all seems to be well. I text Chris (the CFO) and tell him that I made it.

Not 1 minute goes by when I look at the screen again and I see that my train is 1 hour and 15 minutes late.

Yes, you read that correctly. Within the span of 1 minute, my train went from on time to 75 minutes late.

I stand there with my jaw drooped open in amazement.  Then, I see that the 7.58 train is running 3 hours late...which means that if I can change my ticket from the 10.22 train to a train that technically has already left, I can get on it.

I run back downstairs to try and find an agent, but all of the Amtrak offices are closed and the ticket desk is behind the gate where, well, someone died.

So, I go to the ticket kiosk, where I have the challenge of modifying my ticket so that I can take a train that, in the mind of the computer at least, doesn't exist anymore (since it should have been through Newark about 2 hours previously).

Of course, that doesn't work.

So, I go back upstairs to the track (oh yeah, it's 12 degrees) and I decide to call Amtrak to modify my ticket from the 10:22 train (now 11:37) to the 7:58 (now 10:58) train.

While I'm on the phone with the reservation agent, an Acela (which wasn't even listed on the monitor) pulls into the station, so I think "screw this, I'm just getting on this train."

Which is what I do...I explain to the conductor that I'm on the phone with Amtrak and will get it resolved.

The conductor says to me "where are you going?" and I say "oh, I'm going to BWI train station."

Needless to say, at that point, he says "oh, this train DOESN'T STOP AT BWI."

I have no choice but to smile...as I"m now en route to Baltimore, from which I will have to take a cab to BWI so that I can get my car and then drive home.


blog comments powered by Disqus
View Comments