helen-louise (baratron) wrote,
helen-louise
baratron

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Come back South West Trains, all is forgiven!

I am now in Rochester staying with hoopycat (although, because he doesn't really "do" lj, giving him an lj user tag seems a bit redundant). Train yesterday was "interesting".

For a start, it was leaving at 7.15am. Amtrak have big posters up everywhere saying that passengers are only allowed to take 2 "carry-on" bags with them, and everything else has to be checked in - a minimum of half an hour before the train leaves. So to get to the station by 6.30am, I had to be up at 5.30am. Uh-huh. Fortunately, being in a time zone 5 hours behind my usual one has flipped me over into being a morning person... ish... if waking up around 10am and going to sleep at midnight counts as morning (I think it does). But then, I got to the station and discovered that I was psychically supposed to know that my train didn't have checked luggage facilities and I was supposed to take everything with me. Huh? So, I couldn't get anything proper to eat at the station because I had to guard three bloody huge bags full of Pokemon stuff because I was travelling on my own and didn't have anyone else to watch them for me. Joy. Just what I need - getting up 45 minutes before I really had to and not getting any food.

It was also a bad sign when at 7.07am, my train still didn't have a platform. Every other long distance train between 6.30 and 7.05 had left on time, so I was kinda expecting mine to as well. Except it didn't. Apparently it was delayed by "mechanical failure" at some place I didn't catch. Hrm. It eventually limped into the station, sat there for a while with the doors closed while we all froze to death, and left only half an hour late.

OK, so I had two seats to myself, and tried to sleep lying on them. Didn't really get any, but dozed idly for a bit - until I was abruptly woken by one of my damn agencies trying to phone me. Again. Now, I told them both on the phone and in writing before I left that I was going to the US for a couple of weeks and returning on February 1st, and that I wanted them to hold any potential jobs for me until I got back. Despite this, they rang me on Tuesday, when I was in New York. I told them I was in New York, and the woman still tried to give me the details of the job! I was standing at a freaking bus stop paying lots of money to receive the international call, and they expected me to pull a pen out of my pocket, write down the details of the job, and then make another international call to phone the client! Well, sod that. So I was even less impressed to receive a second call from them, and told them so. I'm thinking I might charge them for the calls when I get back - deduct it from the commission I pay them or something.

(I deliberately said "sod" in that last paragraph because I think my speech patterns are going American. I haven't caught the accent yet (basically because I couldn't understand a word of native Baltimorean or New Yorker without lip reading), but I've definitely started saying "Huh!" the way jinian does. "Damn" and "freaking" are very much 'merkin swear words ;) )

What else? Ah yes. Amtrak's "excuses" for the train getting more and more delayed. Now, I thought the British rail excuses of "leaves on the line" or "the wrong kind of snow" were silly - but Amtrak's excuses were positively melodramatic. Like, a frozen-up signal that needed to be defrosted (um, shouldn't that be done before a train needs to run on the line) and two broken-down freight trains (one where the train engine wouldn't run, and the other that "merely" had one broken car that needed to be detached from the rest of the train and pushed into a siding). And there was a point where we got delayed because a previous passenger train was running late and blocking the line. Now, I understand that one as an excuse in Clapham Junction, where there are 30 trains an hour using the same bit of track, but in the US where you get maybe 2 trains an hour if you're lucky...? Hmmm.

Ah well. I got to see a lot of US scenery, which was the main purpose of me going by train rather than flying. It was entirely US scenery in New York state, though, unlike my train trip from Baltimore to New York on Monday, in which I passed through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey (and almost rang Richard to say "Hi. I'm in Delaware" Wayne's World-style - but I'd only actually talked to him 10 minutes earlier!). Still very much like a giant version of The Sims, though. (I actually understand why houses in The Sims are only two storeys, and have such enormous gardens now...)

Better take the shower I said I was going to have 45 minutes ago...
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