I owe a huge thank you to everyone who helped make it possible for me to go to Netroots this year. I am sorry that I was late getting this out; however I didn't get home until 9PM Monday night. I have said it before and will say it again, getting to go to NN was something I had never even dared to dream about and I thank you all for helping me to get there.
I also owe you an apology, as I didn't accomplish much of anything, which I had really hoped I could do; however I did socialize a ton and got to meet people who I knew only through the internet and was able to recharge my liberal batteries, which being here in NC, I desperately needed. I admit to feeling a bit downtrodden after the success of Amendment 1 down here, which was heartbreaking for many people I know. It still hurts, I admit.
Now, onto the rant against Amtrak, and before I go any further, please let me express that I have nothing to say against the staff of train # 79 from DC into Charlotte on Monday. They were suffering just as much(if not more) than the rest of us. My complaints are against the Union Station staff at the gate as well as the supervisors who believed that their ideas were wonderful.
Who in their right mind believes that when there are already delays that it is best to delay one train by at least two hours just so you can combine it with the train that is an hour later? The train number 89 was delayed by an hour, just so they could combine it with train number 79(which took another hour, BTW) as far as Richmond. It took an additional hour after after train number 79 was supposed to leave before the trains were completely combined and allowed to board. (Train number 89 was only going as far as Richmond, then going west).
The person at the gate insisted that we were not going to be delayed, it was just going to take 10 minutes and it wasn't going to be worth it to go sit back down (there was a huge crowd standing at the gate). As many of you know, I have some trouble with standing for long periods of time as well as some issues with mobility (not enough to usually require any kind of assistance; however if I am standing for too long, it can be difficult) and I have some balance issues as well, thanks to the epilepsy.
Once they finally decided that things were progressed far enough that they were going to allow boarding, they started with priority seating, which according to their policy is supposed to be Seniors, Disabled, Families with small children and then business class. She allowed seniors, families with small children(which suddenly became ages 2-15) and then business class. She refused to allow ANY disabled who were under 65 to board at that time. There were a few people behind me on canes that were not 65 and she wouldn't let them on either. She actually screamed in my face when I almost fell over on top of her that unless I could prove that I was 65, I wasn't getting on a second sooner; however she allowed a guy who pretended that he was with a family to slide through without a problem.
Because we were looking at two combined trains, the length of the train was seemingly a mile(although I didn't have a pedometer to check it) and when we finally were allowed to board, we got down the escalator, then had to walk all the way to the very end of the train. I finally got onto the train, collapsed into the seat and was shaking so badly because of the standing and the screaming and the walking that I wasn't able to do anything at all for almost twenty minutes.
Once everything was finally boarded, the conductors came through collected tickets and so forth and were really great about trying to keep everyone updated and relaxed. They really did more than their fair share trying to deal with everyone and managed to keep cool and calm the entire time. The ONLY time I heard anyone snap, even a bit, was after we had already been going for 8 hours and were in NC. It was between the last stop before Raleigh and Raleigh itself. They announced over the loudspeaker that it would be about 20 minutes to Raleigh, the conductor stated that it might be 45 minutes and the lady sitting across from me got snippy with the conductor and asked her which was right and why she was lying over the loudspeaker. She stated that it would be somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes and although scheduled should be about 20, considering how much had gone wrong on the trip, it might be 45. The lady still tried to give her a hard time and she snapped(just a bit) that since we had been on the train for 8 hours, mistakes were possible and that no one was lying to her, she just couldn't guarantee it at that point.
Now, Richmond is only three stops away from Washington, so we got three stops down, then had to sit there with no power and no air conditioning while the trains were split back up and a new engine was added to the train, which took yet another hour. Because of these delays, we ended up behind a local train, which slowed us down even further. We were a total of 3 hours late getting into Raleigh, which feels like an eternity when you have been away for a week and when you are waiting for someone. I am seriously pissed off that Amtrak feels that it is OK to treat its customers like this! When I finally got home, got relaxed and took off my shoes, this is what my feet looked like: