I was coming from somewhere on United Airlines and changing planes at LAX trying to get back to Baltimore where I lived at the time. Like most other people at the end of vacation I was not necessarily looking forward to getting home other than perhaps sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow and enjoying my own shower. This shower had enough power to pressure blast cement and it felt particularly good right between the shoulder blades! It's one of the better ways, I find, to unwind from a long flight in coach.
United was running on time today so that wasn't the problem. The problem was the oversold flight back to Baltimore that started the old lessons in geography flooding back through the fog shrouding my brain. I had a couple of days before needing to be back at work but I was tired just the same and simply wanted to get home. Normally I would have jumped at the offer for an overnight hotel as this was the last nonstop of the day. The flight to Dulles was just as bad with every chance that I would not be high enough of the "confirmed standby" list to make that flight.
The ears perked up when the overworked gate agent clicked through a few more keystrokes and said "Philadelphia looks good." No, she stated, if I took that option I'd be on my own because it was not a "co-terminus" to Baltimore. I'd have to find my own way home after that as United would have considered the trip as "services rendered." No, she further stated, my bags were not retrievable and they would be waiting for me in Baltimore. Again, services rendered so no shot at home delivery either.
I didn't care. I wanted to be on the East Coast and boarded the flight to Philadelphia which for a Dallas Cowboys fan was surely akin to a journey to hell. The flight was uneventful and we landed on time shortly after 10PM. No luggage to check I was ahead of the crowd in getting down to ground level to figure out how I was going to travel the 100 miles south to Baltimore.
The rental cars were curling their mustaches and wringing gnarled hands, cackling in Simon Bar Sinister glee at my predicament as they dreamed of ridiculous one-way rental fees for a car. No airlines were flying between the two at that hour of the night and I wouldn't have lined up for that kind of financial molestation either. I knew I could get a car but prayed it would be a last resort as I looked at the train schedules, hoping for an Amtrak service at that hour of the night.
There was! The connector train rode in from the airport to the 30th Street Station where a departure shortly after Midnight would take me to Baltimore's Penn Station, not even two miles from my front door after a short stop in Wilmington.
It was a fairly quiet evening at the Philadelphia station. Services were limited at that hour of the night but everyone there was more concerned about getting home like me than they were any unusual activity one might believe happens at train stations in the middle of the night. The train arrived and departed with me in a quad of four seats to myself by the window watching Pennsylvania and Delaware sleep the night away. After a 10-minute cab ride from the Baltimore station I was safe at home by 2:30AM.
I'm not one who likes to wrap up trips by counting how many times I could say "At least such and such didn't happen." I was glad to be home and at least in this case, glad it was back to the densely packed East Coast. I could have been trying to get to Minneapolis.
No other major airport for 300 miles!