Derailed is the word of the day.
It perfectly describes my last 24-hours both figuratively and also quite literally.
After spending the weekend in Sacramento with my family, I hopped on the train back to the bay area for work. I really enjoy taking the train because I can sit back, relax, take in the scenery, catch up on my email and twitter... it's really a nice ride complete with free wifi.
The California Amtrak
Today's trip started no different. I finished my morning clips, sent a few emails, and sat back in my seat to relax. It was smooth sailing. And I was on schedule to arrive at my destination early. As we approached my stop, I packed up my laptop and began to walk towards the nearest exit.
We were literally 50 feet away from my stop when the train came to a screeching halt. A few seconds later, a nervous voice came over the PA system: "Passengers, we apologize for the delay, but something has happened that is out of our control. Your safety has not been compromised, and the train is still fully functional but this train is not moving until local authorities have arrived. We will keep you posted." Confused but not concerned, I returned to my seat and got comfortable. I was passing time on my iphone, thinking we would only be stopped for a couple of minutes. Boy was I wrong.
After about 45 minutes, I walked down to the snack cart to stretch my legs when I heard people talking. "We're going to be here at least 2 or 3 hours. When you hit somebody, it's a big deal." Excuse me? I must have heard wrong. I had to ask: "Did you say we'd be here a couple of hours?" The woman replied, "Oh yeah. The last time I was on the train and we hit someone, we sat here for a good three and a half hours." Wow.
Turns out, the lady was right. I went to Twitter to confirm. The train I was on had hit and killed a person at a crossing. The local police, federal guards, and amtrak authorities all had to come and conduct their investigations before we could move.
Both sad and stunned, I sat looking out the window at my scheduled stop. So close, yet so far. I would be on that train for two and a half hours before deboarding and reboarding another train, which took me 50 feet to my destination. Stuff like this only happens in the movies.
All the plans I had for the morning and any laundry list of work items I planned to tackle were out the window. I was now 3 hours late for work and that laundry list was getting longer by the second. But I wasn't mad, or stressed, or frustrated. What are you gonna do when there's nothing you can do?
My lesson of the day: life happens.
And it can end too quickly. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.