Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Pleasures of Traveling on Amtrak

I had the pleasure of riding Amtrak to New York City this week. A colleague and I after boarding in Baltimore headed straight for the café car. They usually have tables that are infinitely easier to use a laptop with. We walk into the car and notice every table has someone sitting at them except for one that has luggage on the seats. We assume that people are in the bathroom, etc. and we sit down sharing a table with another person. After a while my colleague asks someone nearby, “Is anyone sitting there?” Well he comes to find out two other wonderful people at another table decided to use the table for their personal luggage storage. He kindly asked them to move the bags and they did.

What I can’t seem to fathom is that why anyone would be such an A$$ as to take up a table with luggage when the train is clearly very full. They saw us trying to get a table and yet they don’t offer to move their bags.

Now for the return trip from NY. The train was completely sold out as well as having door problems that prevented it from leaving on time. Again we sat in the café car. This time we couldn’t get a table to ourselves, so I ended up sitting with an older lady who looked like someone on a trip to NYC, not on a business trip. More on her later…

There are now multiple announcements about making sure you clear your stuff off every empty seat because the train is full. Sure enough behind me is another table with stuff on it. So two guys move the stuff after asking if it belongs to anyone. Sure enough in comes the conductor who proceeds to yell at them for moving his stuff.

Isn’t the conductor supposed to be working?

If they run out of seats on the train then shouldn’t the conductor give up his TWO seats?

Now back to the older lady…

Somehow we started chatting and she started telling me about all these problems she has with Verizon, the cable company, various product manufacturers. Apparently when she doesn’t get any satisfaction from customer service she finds a VP level person on the website and finds out their home phone number and calls them at home. She said that it is an effective technique. I then asked, “How do you find these numbers?”

“Oh, I’m a private investigator.”

Hmm, interesting. Then she informed me she was also a lawyer. Apparently another effective technique to get companies to pay up is to file in small claims court. She was able to get a $1,000 credit from Verizon this way.

Then the stories came out about different cases she worked on. One was a man who she staked out in the office because the company suspected him of dealing drugs. She was setup as a temp in his department and then had many different people available to tail him as he went out at various times during the day. Sure enough he was dealing pot out of the back of his car. When she informed the company she did ask if he had to be fired because he seemed to be a very diligent worker. Always coming to work very early and staying late and worked very hard except for his little dealing breaks. Apparently he was eventually fired.
Fascinating who you can meet on the train.

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