This is getting ridiculous. Am I a magnet for the bizarre?

Two months ago I took AMTRAK from BWI (Baltimore) to New Rochelle, NY. I only needed to be there a few hours, and the idea of driving was unappealing, so I took the train. I’ve always used trains, starting with my life in the New York City subways decades ago.

My return train was to leave New Rochelle at 9:00pm, but when I arrived at the station there was an electronic sign board saying it was delayed. That’s it – no time estimate, no reason, and no station agent to talk to. I and about twenty other passengers were left standing on the platform.

Several agonizing phone calls to AMTRAK later, we learned in bits and pieces that a pedestrian had been struck and killed by our train somewhere in Massachusetts, and the State Police had shut down the entire system in New England to investigate. Long story short, my train arrived three hours late, and I got back to BWI at 3:00am. The good news was that I got to rescue a woman who was stranded there with no way to get home.

To that point, I was willing to chalk the whole thing up as an interesting experience – until last weekend, when I went back to New York to attend my niece’s engagement party. Since the party was in Manhattan, I definitely did not want to drive this time. The trip north was uneventful, the party was great, and I arrived at Penn Station in plenty of time for my 11:05pm train home, which was to arrive at BWI at 1:55am.

Everything was fine until the train stopped between Trenton and Philadelphia a little after midnight. After ten minutes of waiting, people were waking up and wondering what was going on. I told the person next to me about my previous experience, and just then the conductor announced – you guessed it – our train had run over a pedestrian who’d been sitting on the tracks (outside a bar, as we noticed, much later).

This time it was the Pennsylvania State Police who impounded the train, and we sat there until nearly 3:00am surrounded by a variety of vehicles with multi-colored flashing lights. We arrived at BWI at 4:30 to find that none of the payment machines would read anyone’s credit cards, so our cars were trapped in the parking garage until someone woke up a sleepy attendant.

Oh, there’s more good news. I rescued another woman stranded with no way to get to Annapolis.

Everyone’s telling me to stay off trains. As we all know, disasters come in threes.

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