Gut Rumbles

January 13, 2007

Damage control

Originally published February 7, 2002

A few years ago I rode an Amtrak train from Savannah to Orlando. My son was three years-old at the time and my wife (who was still my darling back then) and I decided that a train ride to Bush Gardens would be a lot better for him than a five-hour car ride. The experience was completely miserable. I knew something was amiss when I went to the club car and ordered a Bloody Mary. They were out of tomato juice. So, I ordered a vodka and grapefruit juice. They were out of grapefruit juice. So, I ordered a vodka on the rocks and, you guessed it, they were out of vodka. Finally, I asked, "WHAT AREN'T YOU OUT OF?" The answer was Budweiser and Miller Lite beer.

We ended up spending most of the trip in the club car anyway, because by the time we reached Jacksonville the club car had the only bathroom on the entire train that wasn't fouled with unflushable human waste, overflowing with human waste or marked "Out of Order."

In Orlando we spent a couple of nervous days watching Hurricane Bertha head toward Florida but we relaxed when it turned northeast and spun harmlessly off into the Atlantic. Bertha was churning somewhere in the ocean about 500 miles off the North Carolina coast when we were supposed to catch the Amtrak back home. But all train travel was cancelled because of the hurricane. There we were, stuck in a train station somewhere in the seamy underbelly of Orlando with our luggage and a whiney three year-old. When I asked for a refund for half of my round-trip ticket fare, I was told that the trip south cost more than the return trip back north and I would receive only 3/4 of the ticket value.

I astutely reminded the ticket agent that any fool could look a a globe and see that going south is DOWNHILL while going north is UPHILL, so how in the hell could the southern leg of this incredible journey cost more than the return trip? "That's just the way it is," she replied. So, I cashed the tickets for what I could get, rode a cab to the nearest rent-a-car establishment and drove home. I beat the Amtrak train by two hours. Well, I beat the SCHEDULED ARRIVAL TIME by two hours, but I actually beat the train by about three days, which is how long it took Amtrak to start running again.

So, in the midst of the Enron mudfight, take a look at the GOVERNMENT VERSION of the same thing.

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