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Something is Better Than Nothing

November 21, 2011

I haven’t posted so long that I am reduced to making a random, numbered list. This is what it has come to. Let us begin in an Andy Rooney frame of mind:

1. Toilet paper. The packages now all claim “Double Rolls! 12 rolls equal 24 regular rolls.” Or, more recently, “Triple Rolls. 12 rolls equal 36 regular rolls.” No, no they do not. Quit lying. They equal the old rolls plus maybe a little more, at twice the price.

2. I’ve been doing great at keeping up on posts at Craftastrophe. In fact, the proudest moment of the past few weeks may be when I pointed Jenny the Bloggess to this big-enough-for-a-human-to-wreak-havoc-in wolf pelt outfit (the wolf died of old age, don’t worry) and she went bananas for it. I think she may actually be in the purchasing process. Do I know my audience or what?

3. My happiest recent moment may have come from discovering that Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has a new video. Ok, so I am weird. But Marcel rocks so hard.

4. I needed to go to the Amtrak station to get a refund on a $14 ticket. I knew even before I went that it would be the kind of errand that would make me think I should have brought Flurrious with me, and Amtrak did not disappoint.

The reason I needed the refund was that the train never showed up. I waited 45 minutes past the scheduled time of arrival. Another irritated would-be traveler called Amtrak and they said not only were they not sure when the train would arrive, they had no idea where the train was. THEY LOST A TRAIN. I know that Amtrak has a very limited budget and tht they are facing a lot of challenges, but I think that keeping account of where all the trains are is sort of, as we say in corporate-speak, a core function.

I ended up driving my car to my destination (along with my two friends and a spare lady traveler, Veronica, who was very nice and entertaining).

I left the ticket in my car for a couple weeks and it got bashed about a bit. The little ticket stub was the most loosely-perforated thing on earth (unlike most perforations, which usually cause me to tear apart whatever I am trying to tear off) and by the time I took the ticket back to the only manned station in the area (which is about 10 miles from me), the stub was hanging on my one…what do you call it? perf? so I secured it together with a paper clip.

Scene: Amtrak station. The players: me and a paunchy, rumpled Amtrak station attendant who had the attitude of someone who has been maddening and disappointing people for years and who considers himself something of an expert at it.

Me: I’d like a refund on this ticket.
Attendant: (takes the ticket and immediately tears the one remaining perf, so it is now in two pieces) Oh, this is going to be a problem. It is in two pieces.
Me: You just tore it in two pieces.
Attendant: No, it was in two pieces.
Me: No, it was barely hanging on. That’s why the paper clip was on it.
Attendant: It doesn’t have your name on it. That’s a problem.
Me: I bought it from a machine at an unmanned station.
(Many, if not most, Amtrak stations are unmanned with machines that do not print your name on the ticket. Additionally, if you buy a ticket on the train, your name would not be on the ticket. So why did he insist it would be a “problem” if my name wasn’t on the ticket? Because, to this guy, everything is a problem.)
Attendant: Why didn’t you take it back where you bought it?
Me: It was an unmanned station, so there was no one there to give me a refund.
Attendant: Why didn’t you use the ticket?
Me: The train never showed up.
Attendant: It says “Ventura-Santa Barbara.” Why didn’t you take it to Santa Barbara for a refund?
Me: If the train to Santa Barbara had shown up, I could have merely USED the ticket, negating the need for a refund, since at that point the ticket would have been actually useful to me.

We continued in this vein for some time, including him getting furious at me for signing on the wrong line on a form full of lines that he held up about 4 feet from me and pointed with his pen and said “Sign here.” The line I signed actually DID say “Sign here” next to it, but it was the wrong “Sign here” line that I filled out, and that was enough for him to yell “NOT THAT LINE. YOU SIGNED ON THE WRONG LINE EVEN AFTER I TOLD YOU WHICH LINE TO SIGN ON.”

Eventually I got my $12.60 (Amtrak has a 10% convenience fee for refunds, of course) and scampered out of there, delighted for having used my cunning and wiles to get a refund on a ticket that was not only ALMOST in two pieces but had NO NAME on it, simply by driving 20 miles round trip and losing $1.40 on the deal. Am I a smooth criminal, or what?

  1. November 21, 2011 10:32

    You don’t know how many times I’ve watched that Marcel video. Every time Chris and I look at our dog we say “snoozin and treats, treats and snoozin”.

    • November 23, 2011 07:37

      I was a bit afraid for Marcel in the slipper! Drama!

  2. November 21, 2011 13:13

    I’m still processing the conversation. Might take awhile. Might take a long while. Oh, and as for my considering taking Amtrak from San Jose to Santa Barbara (I have family in Ojai and Thousand Oaks)…um, now it’s rather unlikely. Apparently their trains detour through the Bermuda Triangle and get lost.

    • November 23, 2011 07:36

      Oh, do take the train! It is so worth all of the inconvenience. The trip down the coast is truly magnificent, especially if you get the afternoon train at a time of year when it is sunset and you are by the ocean. Take your own snacks, though, because theirs leave something to be desired.

  3. November 21, 2011 13:27

    And I had to share the Marcel the Shell videos on Facebook. They are fantastic!

  4. November 21, 2011 19:31

    I don’t know about triple rolls, but double rolls are twice as big as regular rolls. I know this because I am that person in Target who compares the square footage on various brands and also pulls out her calculator to determine if the sale price on Charmin makes it cheaper than the regular price on MD. I am also the person who doesn’t leave the store until she looks over her receipt and if it turns out they charged me for three tins of ginger Altoids when I only bought two, I will then get back in line and get my $1.99 back. In addition, I am the person who once yelled at a Fred Meyer cashier because when I pointed out the orange juice was 4 for $5 she nonsensically informed me, “YOU CAN’T HAVE EVERYTHING ON SALE!” to which I replied, “NO, BUT I CAN HAVE THINGS THAT ARE ON SALE ON SALE!!!” I am very good at shopping but I don’t enjoy it.

    Even so, I probably would have let Amtrak keep the $14.00. Not having to go to the train station has to be worth at least $10.

    • November 23, 2011 07:34

      Thank you for doing the math on the TP. I feel much better now.

      I couldn’t let the Amtrak ticket go unrefunded, even if it killed me to go there. Because if I didn’t get my refund, they would win.

  5. Nicole Reeves permalink
    November 21, 2011 21:36

    This post was most magnificent. As if getting introduced to Marcel wasn’t enough (OMYHECK where has he been all my life?) your conversation with the Amtrak attendant ROCKED! I seriously wish I could’ve been there to listen, and although I’m sure it wasn’t super fun at the time, we can all laugh about it now.

    • November 23, 2011 07:33

      SO happy to spread the Word of Marcel. I hear rumors of a movie. I think my heart would explode from a whole Marcel movie.

  6. November 22, 2011 06:44

    My head. I’m still shaking it over that Amtrak issue.

    • November 23, 2011 07:33

      Me too. But as I told my mom, that worker probably wouldn’t act like a jerk if his management weren’t big jerks to him – you can usually tell how a business treats its workers by how they act.

  7. November 22, 2011 15:23

    They should call it an “Inconvenience fee.”

    When my son was in middle school, he tried to follow the proper procedure to report a broken locker for repair. He was to go to a certain place at a certain time and request a form, only each time he tried, no one was there. He went to the office and was told to go back and do what had been unsuccessful before.

    Finally I called the school and spoke to an assistant principal, who – after refusing to take a request for repairing the locker over the phone from me, told me that part of the students’ education was to learn how navigate these tasks themselves. Frustreated, I asked the guy whether the school was a new Magnet School for Incompetent Bureaucracu and he hung up on me.

    • November 23, 2011 07:32

      LOL at your locker story. So, did your son grow up to be an incompetent bureaucrat?

  8. Marianne B. permalink
    November 24, 2011 00:25

    I just found you through TheBloggess’s wolf post – awesome find!

    LOL on the Amtrak tale – I once took the train from LA to Houston and we arrived 12 hours late! We arrived at midnight instead of noon, so the shuttle I had registered for was long gone and I had to get a taxi to the airport to rent a car to get me to my final destination. I felt even worse for those who on the train that were heading to Florida – they were probably a whole day late.

    • November 24, 2011 07:14

      If my train were 12 hours late, they would have to shoot me with a tranquilizer dart.

  9. Tammy permalink
    November 24, 2011 09:26

    I loved this! Marcel is my obsession (did you know they have a children’s book My 3 yo is in love with it!

  10. November 25, 2011 22:22

    Oh good Lord…I love this post. I’ve been lost in the black hole of the internet thanks to TheBloggess, you, Marcel, Flurrious…this is precisely why I pay Comcast every month.

  11. November 28, 2011 21:09

    I quite like Marcel now that I’ve found him. Your Amtrak story makes me want to run out to the nearest train station and scream at the people working there…but of course, no one actually works at the nearest train station. It’s all automated. And then I’d be screaming at the machine that spits out the tickets and I’d scare small children. Which would be bad, because I work with small children.

    I’ll just take comfort in the fact that you did get most of your money back.

    • November 29, 2011 11:16

      Marcel is so..special.

      I feel bad about Amtrak because I really, really love the train.

  12. December 4, 2011 08:20

    Ha Ha Ha! You better have bought yourself a whole load of fun with that $12.

    • December 11, 2011 16:00

      I should donate it to the Amtrak employees’ therapy fund.


  1. It’s like a hoodie. But with fangs. —

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