Back home again

As much as it’s nice to get away, it’s even better to come home.

I don’t think I blogged about my adventures getting there, did I? Normally, I take Amtrak out of Princeton Junction, NJ which is the train station that’s about 5 minutes from our house. Only problem is the trains don’t run as often out of that station as they do from the next larger station in Trenton, NJ. About 15-20 minutes away.

Unfortunately, for this trip I had to be in DC by around 8 am, and when I booked the trip I found that I couldn’t get a Princeton train that early so I had to reserve the train leaving from Trenton at 5:35 am instead. I got the confirmation via email a few weeks ago and I didn’t think much about it again.

Friday morning, I set my clock for 4 am and I left my house at 4:45 am. That would get me to the train station in plenty of time. Catch is, I had completely blocked out of my head the fact that I wasn’t leaving from Princeton! I’m in my car, about 5 minutes away from the Princeton Junction station when I suddenly realize my train is leaving from Trenton. The Trenton train station has been under construction for months, and parking is a mess there. I had absolutely no idea if there would be anywhere to put my car. I couldn’t possibly go home and call a cab at that hour, so I had no choice but to race to the Trenton train station. Thank goodness it was 5 am and there was absolutely no traffic and I made it to Trenton in record time. Got there to see a big sign that announced, “Parking Lot Now Open.” Phew! $11 per day, but I didn’t care. I found a spot easily and went inside with about 10 minutes to spare to fetch my Amtrak ticket out of a kiosk (since I ordered it online, I didn’t have the physical ticket yet). I had switched my reservation around earlier that week to extend my trip.

I get to the kiosk to learn that not only was my ticket not paid for…when I switched the ticket the agent didn’t apply the credit card to the new ticket…but the machine wouldn’t take a credit card from me because apparently I moved reservations around too many times. Now it’s about 6 minutes before the train is due to arrive and the Amtrak ticketing window is closed because it’s 5:29 am. Panic begins to set in. I couldn’t take a later train because I was meeting colleagues at 8:15 am in DC and I’d mess everyone up if I wasn’t there.

I’m on hold with “Julie,” the automated answering service for Amtrak when I see someone walking by with an Amtrak ID badge. I stop him, explain my predicament and the nice man opens the ticket window a little early for me so he could take my credit card and give me my train tickets. I make it down to the platform with about a minute to wait before the train arrives.

If mornings like that aren’t proof that there’s a higher power at play, I don’t know what is. 😉

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