Sunday, April 10, 2011

H is for Hey! I missed H!

Yesterday was H-day  for the A-Z Challenge. Again, my title is a major cop-out, and for that I apologize.

I totally missed H-Day because I was traveling on Amtrak. A trip that should have lasted 12 hours stretched into 21.

Here's the thing: Spring in North Dakota inevitably means flooding. Apparently a segment of the tracks we were supposed to take was flooded so we were shifted to another set of tracks which was meant primarily for freight traffic. Because we were just visitors on the freight tracks, freight trains took priority. We ended up sitting on shunts for hours waiting for freight trains to pass. We were told that our "sister train," (the train that runs the same route we were taking, Chicago to Seattle) that had left 24 hours prior to us, still hadn't reached its destination and was 28 hours late. Not encouraging news.

However, I find that sometimes these kinds of situations can result in something unexpected, even if it's only that you meet people you never would have met otherwise. I met an interesting young woman studying opera on the west coast. She'd gone home for spring break in the midwest to visit family, and was heading back to school. We talked and she shared her extensive DVD collection with me to pass the time.

It was a brief little situational comararadie and, as any other writer knows, those kinds of things can be inspirational gold.  Sometimes you meet real people who are so much better than anything you could create on your own and they inspire new characters.

So although it was a long trip and by the time we reached my station I was exhausted and in desperate need of a shower, I didn't feel at all cheated or upset. I felt like I'd been given this secret little gift of suspended time and place.

Have you ever found good in a situation that could have been bad?


Angeline said...

What a great story, glad you managed to pass the time well. I remember a train journey from Liverpool to Doncaster (across the north of the UK, not nearly as epic as yours!) It was the day of the Grand National and a drunk guy sat by me. We chatted a bit, although I just wanted to be left in peace. So tell me this; why oh why did I admit to him that I worked for a bookmakers?! I was so relieved when he finally got off and I was alone at last!

KarenG said...

Amtrak is awesome. If I could afford it I'd ride it all over the country just because.

Michael Di Gesu said...

That's great that you could take something so positive out of such a negative.

Something similar happened to me on it was from Monte Carlo to Venice. A normal twelve hour ride took 28 hour and we had to switch trains several times and backtrack once because we couldn't understand the the conductor or PA system.

We lost a night at the hotel and they wouldn't reimburse us, but I have a hell of a story to look back on there was lots of comic relief as we struggled with luggage over the train tracks to catch a different train in Milan. Throwing suitcases through the window.... that sort of thing. I can laugh about it now, of course.

erica and christy said...

I wish I could share something positive, but your Amtrak reference reminded me of when I went from Wisconsin to Idaho when I was 8. I loved everything about the ride - until, 2 weeks later, I came down with the same chicken pox one of the girls I talked to on the train had.

Horrible, all-encompassing chicken pox. And I was supposed to be a flower girl the same weekend I came down with them. :(

Sarah Mäkelä said...

I think it's important to find good even when things aren't going so well. I had a situation when I was flying home from overseas after Christmas where I nearly got stuck in Chicago for New Years, but the airline was able to fly my husband and I to a city two hours away from our home instead. Thank goodness.

Karen Walker said...

I always try to find the silver lining. When I fell and fractured my ankle in 7 places, I could no longer folk dance, something that feeds my soul and makes me happy. I started taking singing lessons and it has transformed my life. Nice to "meet" you on this a-z challenge.

Angela Felsted said...

I guess it's true what they say, it's all in your perspective.