Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Episode 38: Snow Train

When last we left our intrepid hero he was whittling a life sized replica of the White House for the Superhero Inaugural Ball.

Today our hero was charged with traveling from his sister’s superlair in Oak Park, IL to his parent’s superlair in Lawton, MI. Unfortunately upon waking, he discovered that the Midwest had been attacked by the Abominable-Lake-Effect-Snow-Monster. Oh no! With all of the roads covered with a slick and slippery coating of snow and visibility reduced to a nary a few cubits by the offending falling flakes how would he survive the drive!

A-Ha! By outwitting the monster by taking the train! With a 12:15 scheduled departure on Amtrak, our hero had but only to catch the 11:28 Metra train from Oak Park to downtown, walk across the street from one train station to the other and be on his way safely to K-Zoo.

Except of course the Foul-Weather-Fiend had effected even the rail lines. Our hero arrived at the platform in Oak Park to find his train delayed by 17 minutes! This might not seem like long in regular human terms, but to a superhero with a tight connection 17 minutes can be the difference between saving the day and the world ending at the hands of a supervillain’s doomsday device.

Bravely, our her o caught his delayed train and arrived in Chicago with a scant 10 minutes to cross the street, print is ticket, and find his train. But after leaping across the snow and slush filled streets with his suitcase in tow, our hero discovered the entrance to the other train was not in fact right across the street as he had been lead to believe. Sure, there were stairs down to some other Metra Trains, but the REAL trainstation was but a few blocks away.

With lightning quick speed our hero… or, er um, as fast as he could without falling on his ass in the snow, our hero forged his way to the main station, hauled his suitcase down the stairs, found a kiosk, and printed his ticket with just 1 minute to spare. Fearing that he may yet not make his train, he looked at the departures board to find … his train was delayed.

At this point our hero fell victim to the evils of Amtrak-Is-Run-By-A-Bunch-of-F-ing-Morons Man. While the departures board maniacally continued to flash “Delayed” offering no new information, our hero found out from the Incredibly-Unpleasant-and-Unfriendly-Customer-Service Lady that the delay was “an hour or more”. Realizing he probably had to wait until the train coming from K-Zoo arrived late at 1:40 to leave, our hero got lunch.

After satisfying his Italian Beef jones while listening to a wonderfully dramatic Cello-Busker fill the great hall with music, our hero descended into the hellish chaos that is the Amtrak-Forth-Circle-of-Hell-and-Waiting-Lounge. In order to even get into the lounge, our hero (and all other passengers) first had to move through a tiny narrow hallway jammed with people queued up for train leaving for Texas. Once that obstacle had been forded, our hero entered the waiting lounge, the entire left-hand side of which was crammed with people who somehow knew that the K-Zoo train would be boarding from Gate F. Meanwhile the departure board continue to simply flash “Delayed” with not gate information whatsoever.

With the gate are unofficially clogged with people, the moment finally arrived: the departure board switched to “Boarding F-10”. Well good. Tell us something we didn’t already know. Then came the evil taunting announcement “Now pre-boarding seniors”. The legions of passengers attempted to part to let seniors through but with little success. Once a few old people had managed to squeeze through without falling, breaking a hip, or generally dying, the crowd closed in behind them. Only to hear the second evil taunting announcement “Now pre-boarding families with small children”. Frightened children crowd surfed to the front of the line while mother’s wept hoping to one day be reunited with their sons and daughters.

Then, finally, general boarding started. Using his finely tuned skills of crowd maneuvering, our hero managed to slip through the gauntlet of seniors & babies who hadn’t survived pre-boarding and made it onto the platform and finally onto the train itself. A scant 2 hours late, our hero’s train of tears finally pulled away from the station.

Still, it was probably faster than driving.

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