Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fun with Amtrak-Nick

A fun story to demonstrate the fantastic difficulties that arise when you are living in one place while trying to get a job in another place.

Last week I scored an interview with Northwestern University (located in Evanston just north of Chicago). I had anticipated, and hoped, that I would get some interviews while I was still in Columbia, and would have to travel to Chicago for these interviews.  Inconvenient, but necessary to get a job ahead of time.  Anyway, things started out smooth: I got a train ticket for Tuesday from Jefferson City to St. Louis connecting to another train there that would take me on to Chicago, then I got a ticket for the following day after my interview to take me from Chicago to St. Louis where Kayla would pick me up.

The adventure began-Kayla drove me to Jefferson City to catch the first train.  We got there about 20 minutes before the 11:18 train.  When we arrived, we found that the train was delayed and would not be arriving until 12:02.  Well, that was ok because there was supposed to be an hour layover in St. Louis, so I would still catch my second train.  Oh wait, no, the delay is longer, now the train wouldn't arrive until 12:30.  We called Amtrak and they assured us that the train in St. Louis would not leave without the passengers from the connection.  So we waited a bit longer.  Then the deal breaker came-the train wouldn't arrive until after 1pm.  

At this point we called it quits and got back in the car.  Kayla would drive me to St. Louis to catch my train there.  On the way, I called Amtrak and they canceled my first ticket and instructed me to pick up my remaining two tickets at the St. Louis station before I boarded my train to Chicago.  We sped down the highway to St. Louis and arrived at Union Station with a good 30 minutes to spare.

Oh wait...Union Station no longer has trains.  Dope!  Apparently the Amtrak station is located a few blocks away from Union Station.  No problem right?  Wrong.  It was pouring rain and we actually passed it the first time and thus had to walk a few extra blocks while backtracking to find it.

Nevertheless, we arrived at the Amtrak station.  The train was there by that time and leaving soon.  We quickly found the ticket counter and I went to the first open window I could find.  I explained what had happened to the man and gave him my reservation number.  Here is how that conversation went.

Ticket man: "Well, it looks like your tickets are on your original train.  They printed them out in Kansas City so that you could pick them up on the train when you boarded in Jefferson City."
Me: "Yea, but that train isn't going to make it here before my train to Chicago right."
Ticket Man: "That's correct."
Me: "So I'll need to get tickets to get on the Chicago train from you all."
Ticket Man: "No you'll have to wait until the other train arrives to get your tickets."
Me: "I'll have to wait for the train that's not going to arrive until after this one leaves?"
Ticket Man: "That's correct, there's nothing I can do for you, you'll have to call the 800 number."
Me: "I already called them and they said I needed to get my tickets from here."
Ticket Man: "There's nothing I can do."

From here it's pretty much a blur of anger.  Without Kayla there I probably would have burst into the hulk and rampaged uncontrollably across St. Louis.  However, she intervened and talked to another man that, through some magical ability, was able to help us where the other guy was unable (or unwilling).

End of story is that I was able to get on the train just in time before it left and made it to Chicago, to my interview (which went fantastic), and back again.  Not going to lie though...one of the more stressful moments in life.

The End

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you all are dealing with the challenges with a good sense of humor--that will help you overcome a lot.

    Best wishes with the relocation.