It was a comical turn of events. My sons regularly travel to Portland on a train to visit family. Somehow I have never known that a train station exists closer to my home than Seattle. I was excited to try out this new station and save the drive to downtown. Very early this morning we headed to the train station for their departure. I had packed each of my kids a snack sack with individual favorites for each child. Each also had a selection of activities to keep him busy for 3 hour plus ride.
We greeted the car attendant at the station and she allowed me to board the train briefly to get the boys settled into their seats. She was not exaggerating when she said brief! I had just helped the boys stow their luggage when I felt the train lurch forward. I rushed to the car entrance to see instant panic flash across the attendant's face as she realized that I was still on board - really it was less than 3 minutes! She grabbed my arm as I attempted to jump from the moving train - barely moving!
Minor chaos ensued, which involved my kids rushing to find me and being forced to remain seated, me sequestered in a nearby car and trying to remain civil as the conductor was summoned to speak with me and the car attendant trying to find a solution that didn't involve her receiving blame. I was then informed that I was stuck on the train until the next stop - TACOMA! "But," she smiled "we won't charge you for that leg." You bet your sweet smile you won't. [help me Father not to react poorly] I am a Hobo - illegally on a train.
The conductor chastised me, yes chastised ME, that unaccompanied minors were not allowed to board at the last station. Like I was trying to be sneaky or something - I just didn't want to drive into Seattle. Who knew this train station rule? Was it posted? Did the website address it? Maybe, somewhere, but why was I allowed to purchase the tickets?
So, I have the new found pleasure of taking an early morning trip to Tacoma. Woo Hoo! Did I mention that I was in my jammies? I doubt I locked my car which is now miles behind us at the station. [another quick prayer] I return to my children who are faking calm. I call and wake my husband and plead with him to come and get me in Tacoma at the train station. I try to keep my mind fixed on the things above - "Help me Jesus not to hit, yell or cuss." So my saintly, sleepy, unshaven and un-coffee'd husband sets off to rescue me - mind you this was rush hour by now.
The car attendant, bless this poor woman, calls ahead to the next station to fix the unaccompanied minor issue and asks the next station attendant to prepare the necessary paperwork for me to sign upon my arrival. At this same time, a supervisor somewhere gets wind of this whole incident and decides that me and my kids - such villains - should depart the train in Tacoma and find "alternate transportation" to Portland. WHAT!? We prepare to depart. One of my boys is now crying [help me Father].
The train stops, we exit the train, the car attendant (remember her - the reason why I am stuck on the train in the first place?) calls her boss on her personal cell phone and gets the whole debacle cleared up in a manner of minutes - villains to VIP's! [Thank you Father!]
Morning rush hour, waiting in a train station with the other Hobo's (translate: a handful of business-types, a transvestite, a man with a very large cart and a loud belching issue, and a young woman with an apple in each hand) - what an adventure! I will make the 40 minute drive downtown in the future and hope my credentials are not posted on some train station website as a possible Hobo.