Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Attitude Adjustment Story

The Fun Train to Reno
I know I have written about this excursion before but it never made it into a book of mine and since I lost my hard drive full of MAAS stories, those who remember this saga will just have to suffer through it again. While working at Signetics (a lot my stories seem to originate at that time don’t they?) our director, Dan Cone, suggested that we should get a group together (for better rates) and purchase the Fun Train to Reno weekend package. He had his secretary set everything up and we got about 19 couples together which, based upon the choice of hotel, set our price at $139 each. The kicker was that this trip took place a few months after the infamous event that spawned initiation of the FAAS. The train departed from Oakland and we were again barraged with a host of convoluted travel arrangements, the most intricate being provided by Frank “Wrong Way” [last name omitted; but his ancestor was… Jonathon Corrigan Nagle], who insisted, again, that we would never be able to drive to Oakland in a respectful amount of time. His suggestion was to drive to Fremont and catch the Light Rail (it did not run all the way into San Jose at that time) to Oakland. This leg of the journey was 17 miles out of about 43 of the entire trip’s total miles. However, there was one small irritating detail associated with this schema and that concerned parking. There were parking lots, within walking distance, at the Oakland railway station expressly for extended parking unlike the Light Rail parking lot in Fremont that had to be cleared out by 3 AM every night. Frank lived in Fremont and indicated we could just go to his house and park (for free) and our boss Percy [can’t remember his name but I do have a story about him to tell later in a story that I will call “The Bionic Mom”] would then drive us in his van conversion (he was not going to Reno) and drop us off at the Light Rail Station. An itinerary which didn’t sound too bad until Frank added the small detail about living 11.5 miles away. We had driven to Frank’s apartment before and it took us twice as long to go the 11.5 miles as it did the first 17 since the first leg of the trip was on the freeway, so we declined. I felt I made the correct decision when I learned that no one had taken advantage of Frank’s offer.

Well, needless to say that after listening to all the disgusting details of everyone’s horror stories of traveling to the Oakland Railroad station, Sylvia and I decided to leave two hours earlier than our original plan had indicated. Bad mistake, again, because we had three hours to kill sitting and waiting on hard wooden benches in the dirtiest train station I have ever had the displeasure to visit. Anyway, I did get some degree of satisfaction and enjoyment from the fact that Frank [still unidentified] never made the train on time…he ended up having Percy drive him (at a price) to the next train stop. I must take time here to explain why the train was called the “Fun Train”. It had a dining car, bar car and a dance car plus the seats in all the cars were configured to twist and turn so that two or four people could sit facing each other and the Conductor had lap tables to use to play checkers or chess or cards or almost any game, many of which he also provided. There were also permanent tables (for poker, etc.) available in each car as well. Now the people who made the trip before told us that we should bring our own food and drink because we were allowed and it was extremely costly to purchase anything on the train; so we brought an ice chest packed with sandwiches and beer. The Signetics gang filled up a car but it soon became more than half empty as all the women and the younger, single guys who did not want to play poker, all went to the dancing car. I went with Sylvia but could I soon could not stand the hot, crowded condition and told her I was going back, but she stayed. All during the trip, she came back every so often to check on me, eat and drink a beer, until we were about two hours from Reno, but I’ll get to that later. The trip took about 12 hours because the train’s top speed was 70 mph but it could only reach that amazing pace about one hour total of the trip…when the rails were actually level or on a down slope.

After about three hours of playing cards, those California wimps had enough and most sacked out so they could be fresh and alert when we reached Reno. It was then that I discovered Dan Cone had a Marquis de Sade lineage. You see all the doors leading in and out of each car were open, but even when closed there was a huge sign about waist high that read: “Press Here To Open”. Having made the trip previously, Dan knew most of the passengers traveling through our car were heading to the bar car and if they possessed the ability to read before four or five such trips, they seemed to lose it soon afterward. He told me to sit down and watched and he proceeded to close the door, I couldn’t believe how many people would bump into the closed door and then either muscle the thing open (if they were strong enough they could) or ask for help. One girl in particular must have made over a dozen trips (it was a wonder she could still stand) and forced the doors open every time…except for her last time though. That time Dan stood up and uttered, “Permit me” as he touched the spot indicated by the sigh to open the door and the doors split open with a “whoosh”. This bimbo glared at Dan and said, “You let me open these [censored] doors the hard way you [censored…remember I have grandchildren that read] jerk. It really was funny to watch these budding morons come through again and again and never see read the sign. Some at least had the smarts to ask the conductor to “Fix the doors” and he would lock them open, but as soon as he left, Dan would unlock those demon doors and I would announce “Showtime”. Surprisingly, this nasty deed kept us amused until we were about two hours from Reno when a sh*t-load of people passed through our car and our women also returned. I asked why everyone came back so soon and Sylvia said that the conductor announced they were shutting the dance & bar cars down because they had run out of liquor. He added that this had never happened before; not in all the time the “Fun Train” had been in service. I still had beer left in my cooler and Dan had wine left in his so we became two of the most popular guys in the car, besides one of Dan’s managers, Vic McPherson [the guy who recruited me] who still had a full bottle of Jack Daniels in his possession. When we de-boarded the train in Reno, we noticed the paramedics had been called to the station and they were administering first aide to a couple of guys from a group that I had dubbed “The Flying Wallenda’s” because every time this group of six guys, clad in identical attire, passed by someone would shout for them to “build the pyramid” and they would do so by climbing on each other’s backs. I asked the fellow that looked the healthiest of the five men being treated what happened and he just shrugged and answered, “I guess we fell one time too many”. When I asked where the missing guy was he answered, “At the hospital; two cracked vertebra.” The sad thing was none of the injured felt any pain as long as the booze was flowing, but once it ran out I guess screams could be heard. We were lucky to have been about eight cars away.
I’ll finish my story next week because that way I can stretch one story into two and I don’t have time right now to think up more of this crazy, but basically true crap.

Next week's 11-08-2010 (#166) title: The Reno Fun Train Part II