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A Harrowing Night

January 4th, 2014 at 11:56 am

Everyone must be tired of hearing about my train adventures, but I had a new one last night. I've seen others do this, but I never have done it before -- I got on the wrong train.

I was at the downtown station, thus, halfway home. My train had been switched to a different track, and was not yet boarding. I went into the lobby to wait in warmth. When I came back out I saw that the train doors were open and I went in.

The WRONG train doors! Since it was dark outside, I didn't even know I was on the wrong train until I heard the next stop announced. I almost said to the passenger next to me, "Did you hear that? Must be the wrong tape." Then I looked out the window and realized that I was actually heading back the same way I had come in.

I got off at the next stop. It was a station I had been at before, and didn't like. I didn't like it again. It is open and unheated. Dirty. Scary.

I saw the train coming in the opposite direction, the train I needed to catch to get me back downtown. But the ramp to go under the tracks was long -- very long. By the time I got back up on the other side, the train was pulling away. And I had an hour to wait.

It was so bitterly cold. I walked over to a shopping center and browed in an Old Navy store just to be warm. I saw nothing at all that interested me. Then I went to Caribou Coffee, to see if they had a sandwich or something. On my way in, a homeless man asked for money. I said, "I'm sorry," and I noticed he had one arm.

I looked around in Caribou, but didn't see anything I wanted to eat, and I didn't want to get coffee. I was feeling pretty dejected and a little frightened. I went back out and handed a five-dollar bill to the homeless man, feeling it was money better spent that way. He looked me in the eyes and warmly thanked me, and I realized he was younger than I'd thought. It was so sad.

I walked back to the station, giving myself plenty of time so I wouldn't miss the train. I got onto the platform and heard an announcement that the train would approach from the other side. So it was back on that long ramp again to get under the tracks. I waited on that platform for probably 10 minutes or so, but the temperature was dive-bombing. Even inside my insulated mittens my fingers were starting to feel numb, and I was beginning to worry about frostbite. The train finally came, and I made my way back to the city. I had another 30-minute wait at the downtown station, so I got a hamburger. And at least there, I could wait in warmth.

Meanwhile, I was texting back and forth with my son, because I had been expected for dinner. He said he would pick me up at my home station, because it was too cold to walk. And he did. And he brought me some soup and crackers. So it was a good ending! But what a night! I got home at 8:30, after having first got on the train at 4:15.

So I haven't been out all day, and don't plan to, unless the kids want me to come over there.

I did do two loads of laundry this morning. The steps were clear and dry. It's cold, but not as cold as it will be on Monday when below-zero temperatures are predicted. I have already told my boss I will work from home.

Now I'm just trying to shake off my laziness. I have much to do, but not much enthusiasm. But I'm really, really glad to be safe at home!

8 Responses to “A Harrowing Night”

  1. Buendia Says:

    Oh my gosh! That sounds terrible - I am cold just thinking about it! We only have one train here - it goes one way then turns around and comes back (so no wrong trains) but I did get on the wrong train when visiting NYC (the only time I've ever been there). I ended up in a really bad area, and scared myself so much!

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    Oh my. That does sound harrowing and unsettling! I don't blame you for wanting a lazy day at home.

  3. Petunia 100 Says:

    What a frustrating evening! BTW, I never get tired of your train stories. Trains are such a novelty to me, I love reading about it. Despite the occasional bad experience, it seems like a great way to commute.

    Your son was so thoughtful to have soup, crackers, and a warm ride waiting. Smile

  4. momcents Says:


    Oh, yes ... that should be like a "You know you live in Chicago when you end up in the wrong undesirable place ..."

    Glad to hear you are home and safe.

  5. snafu Says:

    Horrid combination of too cold, too scary and too much from 4:15 - 8:30 pm to get homeGlad DS was there for the final leg of that journey. Is there any way to verify change of schedule, change of track departures on-line [smart phone] for trains? Would you consider portable heat packs in pocket/bag? Following Murphy's Law, we pocket them more as a preventative as some delay or breakdown can have ghastly consequences.
    http://www.amazon.com/40-Heat-Packs-Pocket-Size/dp/B0000BXIMV

    We've been asked to stay off roads as police can't keep up with the number of smash-ups with injuries and it gives clearance to snow ploughs

  6. CB in the City Says:

    You know, I knew where I was supposed to go and it was clearly posted. I just saw that open door and went there! It was probably right next to the correct track. (There are 14 tracks, so it can get confusing!)

  7. littlegopher Says:

    Glad you made it home safe and sound! We're home on Monday too - the Governor closed public schools state-wide. Stay warm!!

  8. Looking Forward Says:

    I enjoy all your stories! I like hearing about your train commuting.
    Glad you made it home safely.. What a good son to come and pick you up. Smile

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