( Currently in India, having fun meeting family, friends and enjoying the food. My mountaineering expedition to Stokangiri was electrifying. Lots of fun, endurance, challenges and memories. I will try writing about it very soon. Just got back home after meeting my friend Varsha. Met her after 2 years, and realized how much I missed talking with her. I was introduced to blogging world by Varsha and Lina. Two interesting women!)
Continued from previous post…
It was 7:00 pm by the time my friend Avinash dropped me off in Bloomington’s Amtrak station. Waiting for the train from Chicago that was to drop me off in St Louis, I sat in the passenger waiting zone till 10:00 pm with this one other guy who studied in Illinois state university (at walk able distance from the station) whose destination was same as mine to St Louis. Around ten minutes to 10:00 pm, the security guy in the station who apparently was the only staff who hadn’t left for the day, walked up to me to inform that the train would be delayed by half an hour, thanks to the drunk driver who had the train derailed off track not far away from the station.
And so I waited till 10:45 PM until before the security guy walked to me to inform that the Amtrak authorities are working on the issue and might take more time to get the train running on track. Tired of waiting I asked the security guy to wake me up when the train arrives, for I planned to sleep till then. He was kind enough to oblige to my request. Not long after that I was woken up by him to only inform that the train was cancelled for the night for they couldn’t fix the problem. With the latest update the other student left back home, not far from the station. I was asked to leave the station for the night and come back the next day to collect my rescheduled ticket. By then I knew that it was already late with my schedule to board the bus to Lawrence from St Loius. Tried contacting them to reschedule my Greyhound bus ticket, but it was too late. And I had no plans of calling Avinash to pick me up from Peoria, since it was very late in the night already and he lived 2 hours away from Bloomington.
I requested the security personal to let me stay in the station for the night, but that was disapproved since it was against the state rule to let anyone remain in the station from 12:00am till 6:00am in the morning, I was told. Left strangled, I told him that I have no money left to rent a room for the night, and that I was only a student. Helplessly he thought of my situation and suggested two options, one that he would drop me off in the local police station and inform them of my situation so that I can stay there for the night, or two, to goto the only hotel (open 24/7) in the vicinity of the station and spend my time there until morning. Obviously I preferred the second one. He also added a note to my ticket in there registry that I was very patient for the night and should be offered a rescheduled ticket straight to Lawrence.
So he locked up the station at around 11:45 pm and dropped me off in the hotel where he kept the hotel guy informed of my pathetic status, and asked him to let me spend my night in the hotel. Seated in my table not sure what to do, I kept turning over the pages of the hotel menu, but not having any idea of what I was reading. I was kind of pissed-off of the way all the events for the night was set up exactly against me after a long tiring drive of 800 miles from Gaitlinberg in Tennessee to Bloomington. While I sat there looking out through the window with the heavy rain pounding the window glass, a lady walked in very annoyed and apologizing to the existing waiter in the hotel for being late. She then told him about the reason for her late-coming, as to how the train that she was on was derailed off track by this blazed driver and as to how she managed to get off the train in between nowhere outside the town and request for drop on the highway, where all the passengers were left strangled, with the derailed train issue not to be fixed for the night. When the guy told her about how I missed my scheduled bus to Lawrence from St Louis, thanks to the same train, she was all sympathetic. Now it was her turn to work for the night in the hotel while the other guy left.
Her name was Lauren, seemed to be aged in her late 30’s, very fit, super active, sounded very down to earth, and was probably the reason why I was directed to the hotel by all the events that unfolded for the day, which up till that moment I wished had not happened. She addressed me “Son”, offered me free coffee for the night, kept me engaged in conversation that helped me not realize the pain of having to stay awake for the night (I can’t sleep as it is where ever I wanted to). Every half an hour she called out, “son coffee??” She worked in Merry Ann’s for the week days and for a restaurant in Chicago for the weekend. The whole time that I spoke with her, she listened to me curiously and listening to her talk about her past life, reminded me of the fact that there is lot more to life than just money and other materials which we crave for. She wasn’t rich, not very educated, single and not married, had to work 7 days a week but still was contented and happy in her life. I am really glad that I met Lauren and had the conversation that I did. It’s meetings with people like these in your journey that help you grow up as a better individual in life. Happiness with inner peace !!
Next day morning, I was offered a ticket to Lawrence directly from Galesburg, without having to pay any excess money. They gave me a bus ticket to Galesburg, where I had to wait for 6 hours before boarding the train to Lawrence. I walked through the streets of Galesburg for almost 4 hours, and for the first time I got to see the not so rich and luxurious side of USA, for Galesburg is a old town with bad infrastructure. The downtown had very old craftsmen shops, bars and bakery. I will not forget this pretty girl that I saw in a bakery in Galesburg. She worked there, and was super pretty. Already very tired I didn’t bother myself clicking snaps of the place.