I came home from Seattle today on the train. Well, it wasn’t exactly Seattle, more like Everett, but what’s the difference? They’re both in the same general area. I mean, why would I go to Seattle when I don’t know anyone there? One of my sisters lives in Everett, so I went to Everett. Well anyway, I came home from Everett, WA on the train, only it wasn’t a train. It was a bus. They were doing track maintenance and today the train was a bus – which was fine. To be fair, it was on the web, like everything else and all you needed to do was check. Which I did and already knew I would be taking the bus.
The bus was fine. When I got to the train station I kind of panicked because I thought maybe I should be at the bus station. But then I remembered that I checked the Amtrak website and the address they gave for the trip was the train station. It helps that there is a bus loop attached to the train station in Everett. It sort of makes sense. Props to the city planners who did it right – there.
So I was carrying my US Air Force Official backpack only it’s not really my backpack. Well, it is my backpack but it was my nephew’s. He’s in the USAF and like I said, I was visiting my sister in Everett and thinking of getting a bigger travel pack. My sister, bless her heart, says, why don’t you take this one?
Well, I walk into the train station and am wondering where I should go. It’s 7:40 am and the train bus leaves at 8:30. So I want to check like, where I should stand for the you know, train bus? I am hoping to ask the Amtrak people but they start working at 7:45. Hmm.
I’m not really sure if everyone here in the train station belongs here. I mean, I don’t think these people have any money to go anywhere, not to be judgmental or anything. The guy next to me says, “Don’t go to work on Sunday. Why not? Because it’s April Fools and your boss will say, You have no job anymore! April Fools!”
Well, guy-next-to-me carries on about how Sunday is the first, Monday is the second, and so on. Sigh. Maybe if I look away he will start talking to someone else. He does. Actually, someone else starts talking to him, which is fine. There are characters at the train station. Who knew?
Surprise, surprise, the wicket opens up at 7:45 and a pretty woman asks if she can help. Yes, the train is a bus this morning and it will be along shortly. Where should I stand? Oh stand anywhere, we will make an announcement.The train bus leaves at 8:31.
I don’t know. What if I go outside? Will I hear the announcement? What about the washroom? Will I hear the announcement then? The train bus will park outside the doors to the right, she says. Should I wait there? You can if want to get wet, she says – with her eyes. And all the time I am thinking everyone thinks I work for the Air Force, which I don’t. It’s an upside-down, mixed-up, crazy opposite alternate world day. Haven’t had one of those for a while.
8:25 there is still no sign of the train bus. It’s coming along shortly, she says. How much time will we have to board? Are people getting off? Is the bus full? I shouldn’t have had that extra coffee but I got up so early. I mean, what is going on? Where is the train bus? I am starting to freak out – inside. People keep coming up to the wicket to ask the pretty woman all sorts of rhetorical questions like, how much is it to Chicago, New York, or Denver? I want yell, “You don’t have any money!” but I don’t.
It’s now 8:35 and I am really panicking. What if there is no bus? How will I get back to Vancouver? I decide to go stand outside where pretty lady said the bus would come. She catches my eye and says, “It’s a Starline bus.” Woo, a Starline bus, somehow that makes me feel better. I’m standing in the pelting rain and out of the corner of my eye I see it – the Starline bus and it’s pulling up to me. Oh happy day.
Four passengers get off. I get on, guy takes my ticket says, “Help yourself to some muffins and juice.” Really? I get muffins and juice? I want to take three but only take one because, well, you know. And I take an apple juice. Why not?
The bus is packed. I move down the aisle and it doesn’t seem like there are any seats. Where were those four people sitting? Do I have to stand the whole way? Then I see a knapsack on one seat and a guy in the next seat all curled up into a ball. I tap his shoulder. “I have to sit here,” I say. “Huh? Oh, ya.” He moves his pack and curls back up again. Humph. The seats are small. Well, I will just put my USAF backpack in the overheads. Ha. There is no way. A passenger laughs. Fine, I will put my backpack between my knees, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Okay, fine, I am settled next to Mr Hungover or whatever.
So we carry on towards Canada, land of the brave, home of the free or is that where I am leaving? Can’t remember. Doesn’t matter. I am on my way and it’s alright. I have a muffin, some juice, a sandwich my sister made me, a couple packs of cigarettes, a bottle of water, book and crossword lotto ticket in my pack along with my clothes, passport, new running shoes, toiletries and old knapsack. I am set.
After a quick stop in Mount Vernon, we continue to speed along the grey, rainy highway to Bellingham. We will be heading to Canada Customs shortly so here are the forms. Please fill them out and be ready with your identification. I get out my pen and begin filling out my form. Sleepy head next to me starts filling his out too. I watch out of the corner of my eye. I’m snoopy. I can’t help it. I memorize his name and address noting I will Google it later. See? You just never know who is watching.
At the border, everyone gets off the bus and brings their belongings. The first Customs Officer is pretty tough looking and I prepare myself, then another one signs on in a different booth. He looks more lax and tough guy goes to search the bus. He comes back and continues quizzing passengers. Even though I am a Canadian, I somehow find this very stressful. Then a third officer comes. She signs in. It’s a Customs Lottery! It’s my turn and the woman nods to me. “It takes so long to log on to these computers,” she says. “They want this password and then that password, then a blood sample!” Ha ha. Bingo. She breezes me through.
We all get back on the bus except for the young Asian couple who were too vague or confused and led off to the side. Oh, here they come. All is well. For the rest of the trip, I sit by Mr Not-so-friendly and he pulls out his little laptop, Blackberry and data stick and starts keying code like there is no tomorrow. Really. He’s looking out of the window while he is typing like mad then he checks his work. He’s not typing gibberish. It’s all true.
Well. Now I’m really curious. Back home the first thing I do is Google him. Surprise, a few people have the same name. It’s almost historical. Well actually it is. Not like Ben Franklin historical but enough. Then there he is. This guy has degrees in math, physics and a PhD in economics. Seriously. And he is half my age. I mean, cannot I not get a break? Poor guy. No wonder he is tired. I’d be napping more too if I was him. Not that there is anything wrong with napping, I think it’s good for you.