31 August 2016

ADVENTURE! August 2016

"UH-OH!", the Amtrak Conductor exclaimed as she tried to scan our tickets.
(Is there EVER a time that "UH-OH" is a good thing?)
"There's a problem", she says.
"These tickets are for last night's train."
"UH-OH" said the old helicopter pilot.
"Go right now and tell the ticket agent your problem. Maybe there's an open sleeper on this train."

Heart racing, I ran to the ticket counter. We needed to be in San Antonio for a military reunion.
How did I screw this thing up this badly?

She spent ten minutes coordinating on the phone, then said "You owe me a transaction fee of $12.40. Hurry and catch your train!"

We boarded at 7 P.M., then went immediately to the dining car.
Sara Jean ate one of the best steaks she ever put in her mouth. I ate a grilled chicken breast that was mighty tasty.
Meals are included in the fare for those in "sleeper cars", and are wonderful.
The train pulled out of the station headed South.

Sleeping on the train is fitful. The car rocks side-to-side, sometimes almost violently.
Amtrak does not own the rails... varying freight carriers do. In some places the track is great. In others, Amtrak has to slow almost to a walking pace to pass safely.

We woke at 6 A.M. and prepared to go eat our "free" breakfast. While eating that meal we stopped to disembark/embark passengers at Marshall, TX. That process complete we left that station, only to stop about a mile down the track.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are stopped because the considerable rain they have experienced in this area has washed out the track in front of us. We are now waiting on construction crews to rebuild the track. We'll be here at least an hour."
And the train backed into the Marshall station to allow smokers to get out and do their thing.

FOUR HOURS later, we slowly crossed the area where the track had washed out, accelerated, and continued our journey toward San Antonio.
At Dallas we once again heard the Conductor's voice:
"Ladies and gentlemen, the rain in this area has flooded the terminal controlling our dispatch computers. Traffic separation is now being controlled manually."
That meant slowing or stopping to allow freight traffic to pass.
We arrived in San Antonio after 1 A.M., almost five hours later than scheduled.
We had guaranteed our room, so we literally fell into bed and slept like the exhausted adventurers we were.

The reunion?
We were in San Antonio!
It went GREAT!

05 August 2016

Poor Poor Pitiful Me

We all have 'em...
Some of us are fortunate enough to not be married to 'em...
Joe Bftsplk.

Joe is a forgotten soul now... a cartoon character from the old "Lil' Abner" strip that ran on the funny pages of our old newspaper. Nothing good ever happened to Joe. Everywhere he walked, that dark cloud followed and made sure he didn't have a sunny day.

One of the pilots I used to work with reminded me of Joe.
He had married an attractive gal several years his junior. He used most of his savings to buy a restaurant, hoping it would not only be a financial success, but keep his pretty young wife busy (and out of trouble).
You may be ahead of me here... if you have a pretty, young wife, you may not want to leave her alone with a bunch of customers and fellow workers paying lots of attention to her.
He realized his mistake pretty quickly, but with all his savings committed, what could he do?

He'd come in to work, and for half an hour I had to put on my second hat... "therapist".
He moaned about his marriage. He worried his young wife was having an affair with the 20-yr old busboy.  He complained about the restaurant, the possible loss of his savings, and contractors not doing prompt repairs.

The situation finally got so bad I said, "Partner, I'll make ya a deal. Tomorrow I'll bring my .357 to work and we can do one of two things-
You put it to your head and blow your brains out, or I'll put it to mine." He'd smile a sad smile and nod his head.
They were divorced within a year, and he lost his job shortly thereafter.

People like this suck your energy.
They're not happy until they have chaos in their lives.
They want you to be "happy" like them too, so they share the turbulence in their lives with you.

It may be my biggest failing as a Christian... as soon as I realize I've found one of these energy-suckers, I separate myself. Sometimes that means avoiding people that are VERY close in your life. That makes it hard, but not impossible to "avoid the drain".

Do you know one of these tapeworms?
How do you handle them?