The train was supposed to leave promptly at 12:27pm. My fears of being late and missing it’s departure were entirely unfounded since Mr. Everything-Will-Work-Out-Fine* behind the counter informed me that my train was running at least six hours late. Yes, six. He suggested I buy some roller blades and skate on over to Tampa. It would be faster after all, and I could just let the cold wind blow me halfway there.
And while skating several hours down I-4 sounded like it could be quite the adventure, I opted to get some indian food and shop at the mall instead. I called Julie (the automated Amtrak computer woman) several times that evening to check on the status of my train. Supposedly the magical time of arrival was now 7:07pm. I got to the station a bit before seven, picked up my ticket, and got comfy. I added my opinion to a conversation between two characters who I shall name Mr. Surfer Dude (a sun tanned, fresh faced 19 y/o) and Mr. Upbeat Gay Man (a prematurely grey-haired 40-something), then setteled into my chair to read a bit about the crazy and oddly fascinating man who was Andy Warhol.
I looked up from my book every now and then to see Mr. Surfer Dude (in just a long sleeve shirt and, I’m sure, ever-present board shorts) sprawled out across several chairs while listening to his ipod and attempting a solo game of Cat’s Cradle with a rubber band. His muffled music drifted across the room until all I could hear was a rough guitar, a steady beat, and a melodic voice that sounded vaugley of Brandon Boyd.
In the short time I had been observing this, Mr. Upbeat Gay Man had traveled to the restroom several times, had a little snack, and was now standing near the door to the station studying the faded map of train routes hanging in a dirty glass frame on the wall. Apparently he’d been traveling around the country by car and plane since Christmas and had thought a train ride was now in order. As the minutes kept ticking by and there was still no sign of the train, he admitted he had definitely made a mistake.
After an hour of waiting (during which time we were told the train was minutes away, sent outside into the 40 degrees and dropping weather, locked out of the the station, then let back in; repeat twice) the train finally pulled up and we were ushered on board. I had a quick 20 minute trip to the Orlando station before I got off the train and followed a girl from Poughkeepsie over to the bus that would take us to Tampa. I asked the driver if I could carry on one of my bags and he told me it was fine, just as long as I watched out for his radio. It seems people keep swinging their bags onto the bus and breaking his radio. He was very serious about it so I smiled and told him I’d be careful.
Once I got my seat I looked down and noticed the middle finger on my left hand was bleeding. I guess I must have scraped it when I grabbed my 10,000 pound suitcase from the overhead compartment on the train. A few minutes later I had a slightly surreal moment when I watched an Amish-looking father and son step onto the bus. I’m talking full on straw hats, beards, trousers, and I’m almost postive there were suspenders involved as well. They were soon followed by the mother in her plain, floor-length dark blue dress and white head covering.
The bus ride was fairly uneventful except for the little incident that happened when I pulled my camera out and accidentally set off the blinding flash in the completely darkened bus. I swore under my breath and quickly stashed the camera back in my purse before someone scolded me. The bus made it to Tampa in record time and the run down graffiti sprayed buildings welcomed me with eloquent messages such as “Cops can’t dance”. Because the bus arrived before 10pm I had to a wait a bit for Keith and Nicole to pick me up and I ended up being the only passenger in the completely deserted station. I think the security guy had been waiting for me to leave before he locked up so I dragged my luggage outside and waited on the front steps. It didn’t take long for Keith to show up, but it was frustrating when I saw his car down the street at an intersection and he was stuck at the longest light known to man. Seriously, ten minutes before it turned green. I amused myself by taking oddly angled pictures of my surroundings.
And that’s just about the end of my little tale of adventure for now. A late dinner at PF Changs, Dawn of the Dead, and a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm kept me up until 4, but I slept in late and today has been good. I might just post about that later too.
P.S. Pardon grammer, punctuation and spelling mistakes. I don’t feel like attempting to correct them.
* I feel the need to write the little bit that I know about Mr. Everything-Will-Work-Out-Fine. He is an older gentlemen with a two year old grandaughter that says “mush” instead of “move”. He splits his time between the Winter Park, Orlando, and Kissimee train stations and has worked for Amtrak for 32 years. When he retires this year he will be getting more money from his retirment then he does from working and firmly believes IRA’s should be mandatory. He can sometimes come across as a bit pushy with his opinions, but he’s actually just a nice lonely older man that’s usually just looking for someone to talk to so he can pass the time a little quicker.