Today was supposed to be a very simple little jaunt into Philadelphia via SEPTA (local train) where I would meet a colleague at The Capital Grille for a lovely lobster salad. It all started innocently enough. A gaggle of us boarded in Warminster, plopped down, and proceeded to move at the usual 20 mph on our journey. After the second stop, we stop. No one thinks anything of it. After about 5 minutes we hear a conductor mumbling something under his breath about hitting something. Still, most of us hadn’t really noticed anything. And then the news starts dribbling in.
Apparently some brilliant woman in her Buick Regal decided to try to beat the crossing gate and found herself somewhat on our tracks where the train hit her car. “Hit” is a little much. Brushed? Kissed? Recall that I wrote above that no one had thought anything about us stopping — as in no one felt a thing!
So, it seems we are now involved in a train accident. Before I get snarly, let me assure you (as the conductors assured us), the woman and her elderly husband were fine. The car’s front light was broken and it looked like there might be $500 worth of bumper damage.
Nevertheless, the word “Protocol” kept popping up from different conductors; apparently, there are all sorts of protocol for this sort of thing and most of them contradicted each other. First was the protocol that we’d be on our way soon, right after the police took photos. Then there was the protocol that wouldn’t let us off the train. The protocol that said a bus would be coming to take us to a station further down the line because the protocol was to abandon the train to investigate it. In short, confusion, lack of information, and uniform contempt for Ms. Buick Regal and her husband sprouted.
What was clear was that we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Katharine, to my left, was starting to get upset because she was trying to catch a train from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to attend a birthday party for her 100 year old grandmother, Ila! The couple in front of her were en route to their pied a terre where they had a weekend of wine and opera planned (turns out the wine was under their seat assuring us we wouldn’t go without some refreshments if this went on too much longer.)
I won’t go into all the sordid details but suffice it to say that it was a long and excruciating wait — plus, we were really getting a bit concerned about Katharine and the 12:42 she had to catch! She had to make that party!
Finally, the conductor has good news; we’re going to be moving in moments; no bus needed; we are going to blow past lots of regular stops and hightail it to the city of brotherly love.
And then we learned just how loving our brothers can be. The conductor tells us that no, we won’t be leaving after all, because EMS is on its way to attend to a passenger who is now complaining of neck/back pain! And the clincher, this fellow was in the first car, when it was the last car that was the crash site.
Here we go. We’re all trying not to be negative about this bloke, but it isn’t happening. Ca-ching! I think I’ll sue SEPTA for a pain I don’t have (or even a pain I have but have had for ages) and cause additional delay and frustration to the 70 other people on this train (some of whom may actually have to go to the bathroom!).
EMS came, they escorted him off the train, and we all got to see for ourselves what a real live insurance fraud scammer looks like. Since you weren’t there I will tell you: He hasn’t shaved, he hasn’t brushed his teeth, his hair is unkempt, he’s wearing shorts and a T-shirt (on a blustering 50 degree day), and his T-shirt says, “Let Me Drop Everything and Work on Your Problem.” Nice.
The silver lining is that the passengers were very understanding and patient and of course it gave me something to blog about today. And now I’m wondering: Katharine, did you make that train to Pittsburgh?