Friday, January 13, 2006

Union Station and Beethoven's Fifth

My mom-in-law, Rhonda, took her real estate exam in San Diego on Thursday morning. Her choice of location was due to bad information (she thought it was the closest location available) and serendipity, as it turns out the exam center is 10 minutes from my brother-in-law's residence.

So Rhonda took a train down to San Diego on Wednesday, picking up some identification papers from the DMV along the way. Having stayed the night and enjoyed some bonding time with my two neices, she took the test the next day and (very likely) passed easily.

It fell to me to pick Rhonda up at the Amtrak station in Fullerton. I have no objection, as it is a mere 20 minute drive from our apartment. I listened to the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth and arrived in good time. "Wish I had time to finish this," I thought to myself, and got out of the car.

Wandering around the station, I noted that the inbound train should appear at 10:27 PM, the last train of the night. Right now time, a train pulled up and I took in the cold waiting for her to appear through the softly glowing portals of the silver and blue behemoth of a train.

I watched as passengers disembarked, some hurrying off alone, others greeted warmly by loved ones. One passing sould was kind enough to confirm by query; this is indeed the train from San Diego. I continued to wait.

A minute passed, and I did not find my mother-in-law. The conductor cleared the doors, warning lights came on, and to my dismay the doors began to close. Several trains of thought (ha) ran through my mind: did I miss her? is this right train? did she get off at the wrong station? did she fall asleep? can I stop the train?

Alas, the train began to pull away for Los Angeles, its final destination, and I peered deparately into the Windows, hoping both to find and to not find Rhonda staring out a window. And there she was, coming to a stop near the door with an inquisitive look on her face, just about to turn into a look of dismay when I lost sight of her.

Quickly I caught the attention of an apprently off-duty Amtrak employee. "My mom missed getting off the train!" I said, "Where does it go next?" Union Station in L.A., off of the Alameda exit; she'll be there in 35 minutes. I updated Cathy, got directions from her and rushed off at the highest rate that the speed limit allowed.

Rhonda was astute enough to borrow a fellow passenger's cell phone and updated Cathy. We arranged to meet out front of Union Station, and I got to finish Beethoven's Fifth on the way there. I began listening to the 9th while waiting for my mother-in-law, and was happy to report to base that "the eagle has landed" by 11:05 PM.

Unfortunately for me, Union Station is now linked mentally with Beethoven's Fifth.

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