Tag Archives: Amtrak

My Trip to Delaware, Part Four: Hotel, Day 2, and Home

17 May

May 17, 2013

The Imponderable will return next week, but if you are looking for an Imponderable, then ask yourself what the heck I was supposed to get out of this trip.


We were stuck in a far off hotel. Because the Company event was so big, people from all over the country converged on Wilmington, only to be disappointed with Wilmington. In the weeks before the event, we were never given clear direction on how to bill the Company for the hotel so we would, just for kicks, go online and watch as hotel after hotel got booked. Finally we got the go-ahead and we booked. The four of us booked individually instead of our team supervisor simply booking four rooms. This was a problem.

Although we all went online to book at the same time, somehow the other three members of my team got rooms at the corporate rate while I was told that the last three rooms were just booked. To make a long story short, I ended up getting a much better room than they did. (Allan Keyes grew hot with jealousy over it in this post.) But honestly, for an overnight it was way too much of a room. It was so big that if it had a kitchen I would have lived there. It had a Jacuzzi, a pair of flat screen TV’s, and a view that was to die for.

Sorry, I mean a view that made me want to kill myself.

I took this picture from the bedroom. This was the view from half the hotel. The other half had a worse view.

I took this picture from the bedroom. This was the view from half the hotel. The other half had a worse view.

The hotel itself was awesome- indoor glass elevators, sweeping chandeliers, elegant piano in the lobby, all new and beautiful with indoor views of the restaurant and lounge. The hotel had to be good because if it was a dump no one would have stayed there. It was in the middle of nowhere. Literally

It was at the intersection of two highways and a swamp.

I mean that literally and truthfully. The hotel was a gleaming spire in the middle of fields of weeds and swampland. After we arrived (40 minutes later, taking the Bataan death march of van rides) we went straight to our rooms and agreed to meet in the lobby for dinner later.

Everyone else was enjoying the admittedly limited nightlife of Wilmington, walking around the pier, eating in nice restaurants, catching a movie or shopping, and we had zero to do. We had a quiet meal together in which my boss began her sentences no less than infinity times with “I know you think I don’t like you and annoy you but…”

But the food was good.

After we ate it was only 7:00 and what was there to do? Nothing, I went outside on the hopes that there might be a 7-11 nestled against the hotel, or even an interesting hobo, but there was nothing.  On two sides there were highways cutting through the fields and on the other sides swamps. So at 7:30 was in my room enjoying the Jacuzzi, then by 9 I was asleep in a gigantic bed with maybe 25 pillows strewn around me.

 Checkout time was 7 (for us so we could take that van ride back to the center) and what did we do the rest of the day? Honesty, I won’t bore you. Suffice it to say I caught up on my sleep that afternoon.

Going home I was hoping to get a seat on the other side of the train so I could see what was on the other side of the rust belt but the only empty seats were on the same side. Much as I liked the scenery it was getting dark and I read- really read this time- The Exorcist until we arrived in New York, then I took the N train home.

Bad as it all was, the worst part was the next day back in the office when I saw all the work that had piled up in our absence.

The Good: The hotel room- Jacuzzi, super-king size bed, jumbo TV
The Bad: Everything else

And I never did tell the rest of my team that the Company paid for me to have a hotel room five times better than theirs. I consider that payback for the rest of the trip.

My actual room, Jacuzzi not shown

My actual room, Jacuzzi not shown

My Trip to Delaware, Part Three: Why I Was There

16 May

May 16, 2013

We arrived in Delaware without incident, but it was close. In Trenton there was a “if you see something say something” situation. The train pulled in to the station it was mostly empty. A few people got off, a few got on, and the station was more or less deserted. But from where I sat on the train, looking out the window and around the station, I saw a pink duffel bag sitting under a bench. A few people walked by but no one seemed to notice it and if they did, there was no one on the platform to report it too. I sat for a few minutes and wondered what, if anything to do, when the train pulled out.

Luckily (if sadly) it was most likely a little girl’s lost luggage since the Trenton Amtrak station , to this day, is still standing.

If You See Something, Say Something.


We pulled in to the train station and went outside to wait for our ride. While there, we met up with the missing fourth member of the team. She made the train at the last-minute and had to stand most of the trip. Meanwhile, we were standing some more, about half an hour more, while we waited for our ride.

This made no sense to any of us. Directly across the street from the station was a large office complex, our destination. We were waiting for a ride to pick us up and bring us across a nearly empty street. The building was so close that a half-way decent baseball player, or an exceptional Met, could have hit a pop fly to the lobby.

While we were standing there our ride arrived, and to my surprise it was the local regional superintendent for my Company. At the same time, my direct supervisor received a text that the location had changed. Nice timing. Poor planning but nice timing.

The first day of the trip was simply attending an all-associate meeting by the head of the Company In Which I Am Employed. I have sat at my desk and teleconferenced about ten of these so it was truly a waste of time to attend in person. But we had about two hours to kill before the meeting so my group and some related groups retreated to a private room in the conference center to do some team building exercises. In my days as a teacher I did dozens of those and they were not worth a two-hour train ride to another state. We tossed a beach ball around and whoever caught it answered a question like “if you had a yacht what would you name it?” (May answer- “Not The Titanic because I don’t want it to sink.”) and “If you could have the world’s largest collection of something, what would it be?” (My answer- “$100 bills.”) I was not asked “if you had any car in the world, which would you most like to drive?” (My answer- “The Batmobile.”)

My conference was not nearly this important or interesting

My conference was not nearly this important or interesting


Wilmington Delaware is about as big as my bedroom but has less to do. After the amazing Day One festivities ended at 3:00, my team waited for the hotel shuttle to pick us up. There was a very large, very nice, and very convenient hotel right across the street but due to circumstances beyond my control (my supervisor screwed up) we booked late and the hotel was full. We ended up staying in a hotel not just at the other end of town, but the other end of another town entirely.

We sat on a bench in the parking lot for over an hour and a half, during which I split my time between calling home and complaining and taking pictures of the minor league ballpark at the other end of the lot. (You can see my great pictures by clicking here.)

Not only had we traveled all morning and were tired, but we were also starving since our conference featured a “working lunch,” in which I had bites of a tuna wrap in between catching the beach ball. The highlight of the meeting was seeing the lone Canadian representative cut the stem off a strawberry with a fork.

hotel_shuttleAfter much pacing, grumbling, and complaining, the shuttle arrived and took us to our hotel. Normally, the driver explained, the trip to the hotel was only 25 minutes, but because of construction we would be taking a detour and would arrive in only 40 minutes. None of us were happy. When the driver asked where we were from, my boss literally kicked the back of my seat and said “answer him.” I had to ask him to repeat the question since I had totally zoned out as soon as I got on the shuttle, day dreaming about ditching all responsibility and going the heck home.

Meanwhile, later that night, other people from my company went out for fancy dinners, shopped in a fancy mall, or caught a movie. Not my team. We were stuck in the hotel.

Our hotel was located at the intersection of two highways and a swamp.



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