The Greatest Work of Fiction


I’ve discovered the most astounding work of fiction ever written by a human being.  I’m excluding, “Bark, Sniff” written by Max the poodle of course.  This amazing book is entitled The Amtrak Schedule of Timetables.  There isn’t one page that contains anything close to a fact.

On Wednesday last and again on Saturday, I contracted with Amtrak to carry my body and belongings from Birmingham to New Orleans and back.  Wednesday was met with a hour-late arrival of the #19 Crescent.  Arrival in New Orleans was about 1.5 hours beyond the printed time.

After many days of walking in the hot Louisiana sun, a most enjoyable time with family and food, I rose at 6AM to make the on-time departure of the #20 Crescent at 7:20AM.  Somehow, before arriving at the first Mississippi depot, it was one hour behind schedule.  After an unscheduled, long stop in Tuscaloosa where the defrosting of a frozen condenser on the dining car was attempted, we began the real delay.

The excuse given was a broken-down freight.  For the next 3 hours, the train sat, moved forward a bit, sat, backed up a bit, met its equally-late twin, sat, then finally arrived in Birmingham 4.5 hours late.  Having overheard the conductor discussing the number of “unattended” bound for the Magic City and Hotlanta, I can only imagine the apprehension of waiting parents in those towns.

Any form of travel can encounter delay, long security lines at the airport, car wrecks on the interstate, but I recall from history what train delays can cause.  One man won political election in part by promising the trains would run on time under his administration.  That went a long way towards his ultimate election.  Sadly, among other things, that man killed 6 million Jews.

I think we see where train delays can lead and, no sir, I don’t like the sound of it.

My daughter has a economic theory.  You can pay with money or you can pay with time.  The round-trip fare was only $68.  I guess there was an outstanding balance due I didn’t know about.

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3 Comments

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  1. The Amtrack Coast Starlight can’t seem to make a full run without getting behind either:-)
    I am about embark on a bus trip from Los Angeles to Jamestown ND. My first bus trip out of state… Travle time is to be 1 day,18 hours,& 35 minutes. I only hope the “old grey dog” hasn’t been learning tricks from Amtrack.

  2. While I love trains and how convenient they are, I’ve had my trouble, too. Ended up renting a car between Philly and NYC when the train was delayed. Glad the family time was good :)

  3. Yikes, Mary. 2 days on a bus. You are one brave soul.

    JennH: There was a moment when I thought about schlepping it up the kudzu-encrusted bank to the road and hitching a ride.

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