TRAIN BLOG (WSAU) There’s a great scene from the Neil Simon movie “The Out Of Towners”. It’s a comedy from the late 1960s. A husband and wife are trying to get to New York City from Ohio. He has a big job interview in the morning. Their flight gets diverted to Boston because the New York airports are fogged in. They’ll try to take the late night train to get to New York.
Of course the train is crowded. Everyone else whose flight was diverted to Boston is taking the train to New York, too. “Do you have a seat?” the man asks the conductor. The crusty old conductor shakes his head ‘no’.
“You expect us to stand all the way to New York?”
“Only if you pay me $11 each,” the conductor says as he collects other passengers tickets.
“You don’t have space in the parlor car, or a compartment? I’ll pay for it.”
“Buddy, this train runs empty every night to New York… except when the airport’s fogged in. Then we could use four extra cars.”
“So why don’t you add four extra cars?”
“Haven’t got ‘em. Nobody takes the train anymore. Everybody’s in a hurry.”
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I planned a two-day stopover at my parents house in Connecticut during my trip home from Chicago. My mother greeted me at the door.
“I got a call this morning from the police in New Hampshire”
“They think you car’s been stolen. You should call them.”
I parked my car at the Claremont Junction train station at the start of my trip. The phone number my mother gave me was for the Claremont police. I called right away.
My car was not stolen. But it was buried in a giant snowbank. The police detective explained that about a dozen times a year, cars that were stolen for joyrides get abandoned in their train station parking lot. It snowed a lot since I started my trip a week ago, and my car was buried. After it hadn’t been moved or cleared away in a week, they assumed it was stolen or abandoned. Apparently the few people who take the train from Claremont get someone to drop them off at the train station. No one leaves their car overnight.
I would need to bring a snow shovel or a broom, probably some de-icer to dig my car out.
I cashed in my train ticket back to New Hampshire, and my girlfriend gave me a ride up to New Hampshire with two shovels and jumper cables in the trunk of her car. It took about two hours, but we dug the car out and were able to get in started.
While we were digging the car out, a police cruiser pulled up to the train station parking lot. It was the detective I’d spoken to on the phone. “I was certain this car was stolen,” he said, “because nobody takes the train any more.”
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau