Storytelling Sunday: Not a Laughing Matter
It was 1997, our first summer in our Rhode Island house, and we were just beginning to find our way around, mostly as a function of buying furnishings for our new home. Our daughter had been home from college for the summer but was due to return to her Florida school for the fall semester. She had her car, but we really didn’t want her to drive the 1300 or so miles between the two locations, especially the congested roadways in the Connecticut/New York/New Jersey metro area. After some discussion, it was decided that DH would drive with DD to the Amtrak Auto Train depot just south of Washington, DC, so DD wouldn’t have to drive the rest of the distance to FL.
The Auto Train leaves late afternoon but passengers and their cars need to be there at least a couple of hours before departure to allow time for the cars to be loaded onto the train. Since it’s a drive of nearly 400 miles, the two of them set off very early in the morning on the appointed day to ensure plenty of time enroute. Once DD and vehicle were settled on the Auto Train, the plan was for DH to make his way back to RI starting that same evening via overnight Amtrak passenger service, and I was supposed to meet him the next morning.
The passenger train makes a number of stops in RI, so part of our discussions about this trip involved which station we would use. DH suggested the Providence station, the largest one in the state, but since I was still a bit nervous about our new location, I preferred one of the smaller, more rural stations before the Providence stop. Time went by and DH finalized his and DD’s coach class travel arrangements.
DH’s return train was scheduled to arrive early morning so I was up with the birds in order to get to the station before the train arrived. I waited and watched as passengers made their way through the station but I did not see DH! I checked with an attendant and was assured that his train had arrived and then waited a while longer just to be sure he wasn’t a straggler, but it eventually became quite clear that he wasn’t at the station where I was. We didn’t have cell phones at the time so my only option was to return home and wait for DH to get in touch with me. The phone was ringing as I walked in the door and when I answered, DH asked “Where the ____ are you?” After determining exactly where he was and figuring out how to get there, I set off on the 90-minute journey to that station.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, we never did settle with one another the station where we were going to meet, and both of us ended up trying to satisfy the other’s expectations. So, despite my reluctance to drive into Providence, that’s where I went. Meantime, DH got off at the earlier, smaller station because he knew that’s where I preferred to go. Weary and sore after a night on the train and nearly 36 total hours of travel, he was past ready to get home for a shower and a nap and was quite annoyed at having to wait for me to arrive. To make matters worse, the rural station where he departed the train was being renovated so there were no restaurant or restroom facilities available. It’s an incident we laugh about now, but it certainly wasn’t a laughing matter that morning!