Well, I’ve been meaning to blog about my trip for a couple of weeks now, but time and memory don’t serve me especially well these days. 🙂 Where did I go? Glad you asked. I went to Washington, DC, and if you’ve never been there, you absolutely MUST go one day. Aside from the fact that it’s the seat of our country’s government, it’s just a really great place to visit. There is so much history there that every time I go, I feel like I’ve just become a character in a history book…only this is more fun.
Now, I’ve been to DC twice already and twice have done all of the monuments and touristy things. This time, I was going to meet a gentleman friend that I had been chatting with for several months through one of those online dating sites, so we opted to focus on spending quality time together, rather than doing the mad dash around town to see the tourist stuff I’d already seen. So I’m not going to regale you with tales of the impressiveness of the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington or the awe of the memorials. Instead, I’m going to tell you about an incident that I experienced during my trip that I think you will find entertaining – because it could only happen to me.
Okay, I love to fly. But I get claustrophobic sometimes and that restless legs thing kicks in and I’m pretty good for a 2-4 hour flight. But you put me on a 5 hour flight and it’s a stretch to expect me to sit still that long. So whenever I fly into DC, I go to Baltimore and then take the train or taxi into DC. It takes about the same amount of time as staying on the plane for another hop into one of the DC airports…and I get to get off the plane at about 5 hours. This time my friend recommended that I take the train from the airport into Union Station instead of a taxi and it did turn out to be faster, as well as more entertaining. But I’m jumping ahead…first, I have to say “Hey” to Andie – a gal I met on the plane who was without fail the best seatmate I’ve ever had. She’s a horse gal, I’m a horse gal, who cares if we hail from opposite ends of the country. We started chatting and never stopped until the plane landed in DC…and we talked about the funnest, most amazing things. 🙂 The trip seemed half as long to me and I made a new friend – what’s not to love? Hi Andie…this is me waving.
So I land in Baltimore, get my bags, and head off to find the shuttle bus to the train station. No problem…get to the train station slick as a whistle – about an hour and a half before my train is scheduled to leave. So much for allowing enough time. I buy a bottle of water and a granola bar and settle into a seat not far from the ladies room. There’s snow on the ground outside and I’m grateful for a warm place to sit and wait. Within minutes, the male janitor takes a break from cleaning the women’s room and takes a seat next to me. Within twenty minutes, I’ve got Leon’s life story. I know that he’s single and lives with his momma and makes “good money”. The entire time I’m talking to Leon, he’s wearing his yellow rubber clean-the-toilet gloves, waving them in the air, tapping me on the arm. When he starts asking if I’m single, I start to develop a nervous twitch in my right eye. Unfortunately, Leon was on my left side, so he couldn’t see the twitch. So I say goodbye, pick up my bags, and decide it’s not all that cold outside…only a half hour more to wait.
Here I am, standing outside in the snow on a train platform with the wind blowing, trying to keep my hands warm without letting my suitcase fall over into the water puddles. Did I mention I bought a new coat for the trip? Good decision that was…next time I’ll put the gloves in the coat pocket instead of packing them in the bottom of the suitcase. Anyway, here I am…waiting…and I start hearing announcements that the trains are running late. This doesn’t bode well. I also can’t tell how to tell the trains apart. There’s a number on my ticket and there’s a number on the trains, but they don’t look anything alike. Everyone I stop to ask doesn’t know…or doesn’t want to chat about it. So I’m starting to get nervous that I’m going to accidentally get on the wrong train and maybe end up God knows where.
Finally, a train arrives at about 5 minutes before the time mine is supposed to be there. I can tell this one isn’t mine because it’s a different line. This one is the Marc train and I’m supposed to be on the Amtrak. But the conductor standing in the doorway looks nice, so I show her my ticket and ask her if I’m in the right place to catch my train. She says yes, I am…then she ducks into the Marc train and sticks her head back out and says, “Honey, you go ahead and get on this train ‘cuz yours is late.” I freeze…this isn’t according to plan…how does this work? I ask if the ticket I have will work and she says yeah, no problem. Then I ask if it will take me to Union Station and will I get there at the same time as the other one. She looks at me like I just got off the short bus and slowly says, “It’ll get you to Union Station before the other train does…’cuz that one’s late. Hurry now.” Alrighty then…time to hurry. So I grab my bag, I hustle onto the train and lurch the bag across the gap between the platform and the car. I’m on my way.
Now, I’ve ridden the Metro trains in DC a few dozen times, but never the longer distance trains, so I don’t know train protocol and, trust me, I can screw up protocol quicker than you could say “crap”. So here I am, having intentionally boarded the wrong train, and convinced disaster is looming in my future. Three steps in, I find I have to make a choice…do I lug my bags up 4 steps or down 4 steps? Crap! Down seems easier. Oh, silly me! Just about the time my foot hits the 3rd step, I discover just how wet the bottom of my shoes still are as my feet sail out from under me and I fall right on my ass on the steps in front of a full car of people. Crap!
I’m laying on my back on the steps, my bag is on top of me, my butt hurts like hell, and I open my eyes to find 50 people staring at me. The two men who were the closest both jumped to grab my bag and help me up – a very attractive gentleman whom I later decide is probably a school teacher, and a very attractive young black man with a stocking cap and headphones on his head. They get me on my feet and the young black man pulls my bag over by the first seat and tells me to sit there with him. He looks harmless enough…ok. I sit. Now…I want you to picture this. This is a packed train. This young man has been sitting alone in one of those double seat areas where two seats face each other…first seat inside the door. How did I get that lucky? Stick around.
Okay, so I’m sitting there with my seat mate who chats very little before putting his headphones on. Good…this is going to be a nice, quiet trip. I’ll have time to recover my dignity. Within minutes, my seatmate is singing along to the tunes on his headphones and I chuckle to myself that he doesn’t realize how loud he’s singing because now I can hear him over the music. After a few minutes, I realize that the tunes he’s listening to are gospel tunes. Cool…but he’s getting much louder now. Okay, no skin off my nose. Within minutes, the guy is singing at the top of his lungs and not only is the subject the worship of God, but I realize he’s winging it. There is no music in those headphones or if there is, it’s instrumental and he’s making up the words as he goes.
Now I begin to look around and find everyone is still staring at me…only this time, they’re smiling sympathetically and winking. They feel sorry for me because I’m trapped with the singing preacher. I chuckle to myself. He’s not so bad…just enthusiastic about his faith. But in horror I soon realize he’s working into his sermon the story of the woman who fell down the steps on the train, and telling about how God loves her and she’ll have a place in heaven along with all the other faithful. Now the other passengers are starting to openly chuckle as they stare at me and the thought enters my head that at this pace…Holy Mother of God, he’s going to make me the Virgin Mary before we hit DC!!! The other guy who helped me up off the floor looks up from grading his papers and smiles at me and says, “You’re going to have a good story to tell when you get home.” I tell him the blog is going to be unbelievable. He smiles and goes back to grading papers as the singing prophet continues to immortalize me in hymn.
Thankfully, the trip to DC isn’t a real long one…about 45 minutes. So as we begin to near the station, I take the opportunity to leave my seat and head to the front of the car early…after all, I still have steps to navigate again. As I’m standing at the front of the car waiting for the doors to open, I hear a couple of women talking about my seatmate and one of them rolls her eyes and says, “Yeah, old Moses, he always on this train. Don’t know why he don’t shut up.” Moses…yep, that seems appropriate…sort of.
Now, this is where I’m going to fast forward a bit. I arrive in DC, meet my friend, and we have a lovely dinner that evening. The next day, we’re walking through downtown DC, seeing the sights, taking in a movie, and chatting. Shortly after we leave the movie theater, we’re walking down the street talking when suddenly I hear a familiar voice from across the street. It’s a man singing about grace and salvation…and I’m almost sure I heard him say something about the woman who fell down the stairs on the train. Yep, you guessed it…Moses. Only this time, Moses has a freaking megaphone. I spin around and almost climb inside my friend’s coat, trying to keep Moses from spotting me. What are the chances I would run into Moses two days in a row in a place the size of DC? I’m thinking church on Sunday might be in order.
Well, that’s the tale of what DC and Moses have in common. Oh, and another point that adds insult to injury…I discovered when I got back to my hotel room the night of my arrival that I had not only met my date for the first time, but had also been paraded all around DC, through a restaurant and a nightclub, with boot prints on the butt of my beige pants. Add injury to the insult when I wake up the next morning with a huge purple bruise the size of an orange on my ass. How’s that for a first date?
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it..hang on real tight now, ‘cuz we’re gonna go real, real fast!