i'm in philly for some meetings, and am packed in my western flyer. inside are my 13" macbook air, files, a notebook, a pen and pencil, ac adapter and various cables, all organized in the freudian slip. also inside are a change of clothes, wallet, iphone, earphones, keys, and a canon s90 camera.
traffic was a mess, and i arrived late at union station in washington, dc. with the western flyer worn as a backpack, i ran to the ticket kiosk and printed my ticket. it was 8 o'clock - the departure time for my train. the gate was just ahead of the kiosk, and no one was there. the door was closed, so i ran to it, opened it, and walked through.
i saw two other passengers, and an officer holding their tickets. i felt relieved that i had made my train - or at least that's what i thought. there were a few other officers standing nearby.
the officer asked if i what i had in my hand was my ticket. it was, and i handed it to him to check. he asked for my id. i thought, okay, they're being more security conscious, perhaps because we were boarding so close to the time of departure.
but as i heard the officer speaking the name and then the driver's license number of one of the other passengers waiting along with me (there were three of us altogether), it became very quickly apparent that there was something more going on.
after reading all three of our names and driver's license numbers to the person on the other end of the radio, the officer informed us that the train was gone. he went on to say that when we opened that door and walked through it, it is what they call "unlawful entry." he further explained that in the district of columbia, unlawful entry is a misdemeanor offense.
all of the sudden, my thoughts went from "i hope i make this train so that i can make my 10am in philly" to "oh lord, i don't want to go to jail!"
i apologized and told the officer that i didn't know that - i thought i was just proceeding through the gate to go board the train.
he patiently explained further how it all works. shortly thereafter, someone at the other end of his radio confirmed that we weren't terrorists. i mentioned that there was an 8:10 regional train, and that i'd like to see if we can make it onto that.
the officer was kind enough to walk us back to the ticketing desk so that we could exchange our tickets. i thanked the ticketing agent and the officer and apologized one last time, and then ran faster than i thought i could to the other gate. i made it there this time, and someone was there to check my ticket. the last thing i needed at that moment was to arrive at that gate after it had closed and to be greeted by another officer.
in philly now - will share pictures of my western flyer soon...