Stranded by the Railroad–2

 

                                                   

                                                     continued from November 2

We were on the way to San Diego to visit our granddaughter Sarah. After I started down the ramp when the conductor told me I could dump my trash at the railroad station, he turned and boarded the train as it was about to pull away. Irate, I headed for the ticket office to report the clueless conductor. Fortunately the clerk had a record of our purchase and gave me a new ticket. Ranting away, I told my tale to the woman in line behind me.

“I agree.” she said. “We’re from Texas, and those conductors. They do not help you.” She opened her purse and pulled out her wallet. “Here’s $20.”

“Oh no, no, no,” I demurred, raising my palm.

‘Yes, take it. I heard her say you’d be here for three hours.”

“Oh thanks anyway. I’ll survive.” I turned resolutely , walked toward a bench, and sat down.” In deference to the coming Christmas season, a few chewed-up looking silvery garlands had been draped along the walls.

I considered my folly in dashing off to a strange city with no money or ID. On this breezy Sunday afternoon, I’d get cold if I went out for a walk. Besides, by now my husband, in the midst of solving the Sunday crossword puzzle,  had surely noticed that I wasn’t sitting beside him, so he’d be calling me on the cell phone any minute.

My stomach rumbled. I hadn’t eaten. I went back to the kind lady from Texas. “You know, I might take that $20. If you’ll give me your name and address, I’ll mail you a check when I get my purse back.”

She waved the bill at me. “Take it. Just pass it on to the next stranded traveler.”

I bought a drink from the vending machine and waited for my husband to call.

But I had forgotten about Mike, the crossword puzzle fanatic. It took him nearly an hour to realize that while my purse sat on the seat beside him, I did not. He searched the train in vain, then asked to borrow a fellow passenger’s cell phone. Remembering our number, he punched it in and barked, “Where are you?”

“In Anaheim.”

Sparks flew later, but how fortunate I was that a kind traveler took pity on an old white-haired woman instead of writing me off as a predator or thief. I’ve since passed that twenty on to both other stranded travelers and also to a newly arrived U.S  immigrant.

 

 

 

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