austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

So far away, so close to home, tell them they're good to you, take them all along

Back to the hotel we went, correctly finding the rear entrance again, and we didn't do badly in finding the front desk either. We did fail to find who was the winner of a little pumpkin-carving contest which had been running at least that weekend, though. They still had leftover bowls of cheap chocolate, though, so we were well-set for that.

I was going to Union Station and so could ride a single Metro line all the way there. bunny_hugger had to transfer to one of several possible lines and we figured how to make it the latest possible stop. it felt vaguely transgressive, somehow, to be bringing our luggage on the subway, although since this all fit well within the bounds of carry-on luggage it wasn't all that exotic and didn't push any actual limits.

But we did eventually reach the Chinatown station, and her transfer, and ... well, I'd thought of riding with her to the airport, but we were cutting things very close and I didn't have the time for such a diversion. I didn't even have time to get off and wait with her for her connecting subway, it would turn out. We said, and hugged, our goodbyes there, and I sat back down dazed and looking for a glimpse of her as she moved along to the next subway platform.

I was right in there not being very much time. While I got to Union Station all right and discovered that like just about every escalator other than the enormous ones at Woodley Park-Zoo/Etc, the escalators here weren't working either. Something has been destroying the escalator capacity of the Washington Metro and I can only guess what, inaccurately. Why is even worse.

The point is that while I got to Union Station and found my way to printing out my reserved ticket fine, I only had a few minutes between getting everything together (that is, getting a couple sodas for the train) and the start of boarding, which was preceded by the sort of line which in an airport I'd have known how to get at the head of. I need to transfer my line-using skills to this transport mode.

By following my usual guide to getting less crowded spaces --- moving to the extreme end, in this case, the front of the train --- I got onto one of the Quiet Cars, which meant mostly no cell phone conversations. There also weren't any precocious kids worried about me getting up from my seat even when not directed to. It was, as promised, a quiet ride, although it sure seemed like the stations farther from home went by faster. I could swear we spent more time getting from Washington to Philadelphia than we took getting from Philadelphia to Trenton. Since it was night and I had a thick book to read I wasn't doing any careful estimates of what the speed was like, but still, it seemed like Maryland and Pennsylvania just flew by while we took New Jersey the long way. But I was surprised by how quick and convenient it was, really; the next time I go to Washington I'm tempted to do it by train, particularly now that I know where specifically the Trenton Transit Center is.

There was one confused man who got off in Trenton, too, unsure about whether he wanted to get off the train in Trenton or in New Jersey. Another passenger tried his best to clarify that yes, he was in New Jersey, but there were multiple stops in New Jersey and whether this was the right one depended on where he wanted to get. I tried in my characteristically inept way to help, but that came down to hovering nearby without actually achieving much. It turned out he didn't want Trenton, but by the time he had shown his ticket to the other passenger and got that clear, the train had already left. We think we talked him into going to the information booth, but are not positive.

My father picked me up. To thank him for the expedition I'd stopped in the train station's Dunkin Donuts where I got a couple of ... something. They had reached that point in the night where all relationship between the labels and the donuts on display was lost, and the clerk working there was none too sure what any of this was either. My donut turned out to have an apple jelly filling, which wasn't a bad choice, whether I made it deliberately or not.

And that, too soon, was ... the end. The next day I'd be back to work, and the common time of life.

Trivia: Penn Central stock hit a low of $28.75 per share on 12 November 1969. Its high for the year had been $71.75. Source: The Wreck of The Penn Central: The Real Story Behind The Largest Bankruptcy In American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.

Currently Reading: Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama.


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