Tuesday, September 5, 2017

There and Back Again – Return Train Trip to New Jersey – Dispatch #2

The train pulled into Chicago Union Station around 4:15, just about 1.5 hours late.  I am beginning to think this might be a pattern. “Luckily,” the train I am taking for my second leg of the trip does not leave until 9:30 PM. So I have a few hours here. 

After my calamity last time at Union Station, I decided to pay the $20 fee for coach passengers to use the Legacy Club, a recently created lounge for business class, sleeper passengers and coach passengers who ante up the fee. The seating in here is much more comfortable than the polished pews out in the great hall. Amenities include free soft drinks and coffee, snacks, private bathrooms, dedicated Wi-Fi and cable TV. The atmosphere is quiet and subdued.
I am beginning to wonder, however, how anyone who travels a lot and wishes to work online can tolerate the really terrible Wi-Fi. Even here, in a “private” area with a 5-G connection, the signal drops. The coffee is quite good; it is made, per cup by a machine featuring 3 Starbucks varieties. It is happy hour, so there is beer — I will pass on that. However, the snacks are just bagged chips, jawbreaker granola bars (you know the brand) and probably the best of the lot, almonds. Luckily I have a juicy Iowa peach and an apple in my bag.

My idea to buy a blanket in the train station has been foiled, as there are only food places here — unlike Penn Station in NYC or Union Station in DC which have stores selling things you don't even know you need.

But all that is really secondary, because what I am really here for is the priority boarding. I have no intention of getting trampled on the platform again. Today, I was able to observe that many areas of the yellow bumpy safety edging had holes in them and pieces ripped off. Perfect to catch a small swivel suitcase wheel and cause the bag and the owner to be pitched face-first to the platform. Those bruises and abrasions are not healed, 6 days out. I don’t need any more.

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