Chaos Attraction

Train Trouble

2003-07-21, 1:13 a.m.

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This weekend was NOT a good one to travel on, at least, not on Amtrak. Not only did trains crash into each other, there were derailments, breakdowns, freight trains, the works. Nearly every train seemed to be a minimum of 2 1/2 hours late everywhere. ARGH!

For those who don’t know the route I take to get to Dave’s quite yet, it involves taking two busses in order to get to the train to his house. Anyway, as usual I got onto bus #1 Friday afternoon, and the driver told all of us to go sit in the back of the bus because the air conditioning was working back there. So the three of us on it head into the back and end up sitting by each other. There’s a UCD student girl, me, and a guy. The guy is a talkative fellow and gets us all into a computer-geek conversation. He works at a repair place downtown three days a week but lives in Dave’s town, so he takes the train back and forth. I haven’t to my recollection seen him on it before, but lord knows I am unobservant on these things.

He gives us fliers if we ever need computer repair. I, of course, say, “Yeah, I’ll end up at your place at some point, with all of my possessed computers and all.” I tell him about the nearly-dead one at home, and he’s all “I could fix that.” (Mental jaw drop from me here.) He’s apparently quite good at fixing about anything computer-ish, been doing it for 10 years, buncha certifications, what have you. Impressive. He’s also got a bunch of games on him, and since I’ve got the laptop, offers to put some of them on it for me when we get into Sacramento. We do the name introductions- he’s Raymond.

So we get onto the bus, he turns on the laptop, and goes “It should not be loading this slowly at the start.” I tell him that according to Dell they said this was normal. He scoffs at that and says he can fix it very quickly. So he goes in and alters the settings so it doesn’t load a bunch of stuff I’m not outright using, and it loads a lot quicker, installs a game, etc.... and then came the reboot, and suddenly not only has it gone back to loading like ass, it won’t load the icons/start menu onto the screen. Argh, what’s this? He hasn’t ever seen a computer do this before. I say that this is par for the course- any computer I own starts to do batty behavior within a few days of ownership. He’s determined to fix it and says I can come into his work if I need to for this stuff later.

Anyway, despite the computer doing weird things, we’re doing the old computer chat, yada yada. We talk about how he commutes out here, etc. At some point I mention needing to find a roommate, and his eyes light up, especially when I mention the rent number. Oooh, a possibility, woo hoo! I need to go check how much utilities are (at this point, Hill pays those and I pay phones) and get back to him, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Has to be cheaper than paying $90/week to commute back and forth, you know? My instinct to wait on searching may be paying off. I’ve got his contact info.

Anyway, computer’s still not cooperating with his fix (or allowing him to do an upgrade on the OS- apparently some file is corrupted on it and causing it not to take his fix) when we get into Stockton. We go ask how late it’s going to be this time (we get in around 7:15, train is supposed to leave at 7:30ish, rarely leaves before 8), and the train conductor boredly says “Nine.” Even worse, a few minutes later they say the train won’t be getting in before ten. All the derailments and crashes and whatnot that went down around here, apparently. ARGH.

So while we’re waiting around incessantly, he attempts to fix the computer some more, the computer doesn’t cooperate. At one point we get fed up and decide to look for the nearest McDonald’s. Picture this: It’s 9 p.m., and we have two twentysomething kids dressed in nice work clothes. I’m carrying a big backpack and a laptop bag with a laptop in it, he’s carrying a laptop bag with shitloads of computer equipment in it. We’re carrying loads of money on us, looking like we’re carrying money on us, and walking through sleazy, beat-up, bars-on-everything downtown Stockton in the dark. Eeeep. Big eeeep. I am amazed we made it there and back alive and unmugged and approached for money only once. A woman looking for the train station picked us up on the way back, which, as Raymond pointed out, may very well have saved our lives.

Eventually the train showed up, we went back to computer repair attempts, and eventually he had to give up for the night. It wasn’t taking any fix, and we were about to arrive. He said he hadn’t ever run into this with any machine before (okay, maybe getting a refurb wasn’t such the best idea?). He offered to fix it for free if I could drop it off on a workday when his boss wasn’t around (that last bit being the tricky part).

We got off, and I introduced him to Dave, who gave him a ride home, and they geeked out about games. I think Dave approves, heh. I finally got to Dave’s at eleven.

An amusing footnote to this: I wrote this on the way back home, and I managed to snag a table seat, so I pulled out the laptop. The dudes across from me- 2 old guys and a college student- were commenting on it. For some stupid reason, I blanked out that I’d graduated what, two frigging years ago, and said that I was a UCD student (everyone assumes I am anyway, but these folks thought I was a high schooler). Kind of an oops because guess where the student was from? Heh. He got all excited about that. (No worries, folks, he’s taken) Oh, and he told me that I’m cute and blonde so I should find a computer geek to fix my computers. I’m all “I did that on the last train!” *snort* I got some other stuff to install and burn from him too. Hee!

It’s been a bad, bad week for trains. Dave didn’t get home until eleven on Thursday, I didn’t arrive until eleven on Friday, and the one I was originally scheduled to take at 7:30 tonight was over three hours late due to a breakdown and repair. The Amtrak guy switched me to the latest train out leaving at 9:15, and it left around 9:50. I feel worse for the people going out of state- their connecting train after this one is already 3 hours late. I wouldn’t be too thrilled to catch a train at 3 or 4 in the morning. Good thing that one’s a sleeper, I think. You may note that this is going up after one a.m., which would be because when we finally got into Sac around 11:30, it took a half hour for them to go "Oh, wait, there's no bus to take 11 people to your town after all, we need to go dig up taxis."

It's funny how many people are familiar to you when you take the same route over and over again. One girl going back tonight recognizes me more than I have her, maybe because usually I go back earlier. She was all "Do you have a ten-day pass?" Apparently Amtrak offers a frequent-route-traveler deal, which Raymond has. I was all, "I only found out about that a few days ago." "But you take this route every weekend!" she said. Ironically, I may not be doing that so much, but I'll keep that in mind if I need to spend 5 out of 6 weekends going to his house.

As for the rest of the weekend, we didn’t do a whole lot. Dave bought me a digital camera when he got his check in as his first laptop payment, so I had a little fun with that. (Actually took a photo for Pamie’s little book photo gallery with it.) Went to the mall, looked around at computer stuff again but bought nothing, yay me. Did chat with an Hewlett Packard rep for awhile, mostly about non-HP stuff- the Grateful Dead, how he’s an agent for a playwright friend of mine, among other hobbies. Dave’s all “Oh, she’s the writer,” and that perked him up. He’d actually heard of NaNoWriMo. Heh. I also worked on some more clay stuff for the crafts fair. I made some non-traditional beads out of my bead book, and hopefully those will work better than say, the traditional roll-a-bunch-of-canes methods I’ve tried and bombed at of late. Hopefully Dave can get to baking them while I’m gone.

It seems weird that I won’t be at his place that much after this. I owe Mom a visit next weekend, then he’ll be at my place the weekend after that, then I go on vacation, then he’ll be insisting on going to my place as much as possible thereafter. I can’t say I blame him after this weekend- his mom *ahem* interrupted us in the middle of nookie- and yes, she KNEW what we were up to- to make him go move his car, and also badmouthed him as a pet owner at great length in front of me. Afterward he said at least my mom waits to berate me until we’re not in public, while his mom adores an audience.


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