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The Magical Flying Poop Train and the Vacation from Hell

On 03/02/2013 at 08:29 PM by Angelo Grant

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This is actually my 3rd attempt to write about my trip, which apparently is so cursed I can't even blog about it without running into trouble. Hopefully I don't sound too much like a miserable human being.  Trust me, I'm very aware of the humor in all of this, and I hope you're actually laughing a little bit at just how bad this went. I know I am.

2 weeks prior to vacation: Amtrak informed us that we'll be taking a bus (read not a train) through most of Florida on our way back to New York due to track repairs. We'll also need so stay an extra day as we won't be able to make the train leaving on the original date we wanted. This also means we won't be riding the really nice superliner we reserved on the way back, but at least, we assumed, we'd be able to ride it to Florida  We were wrong.

We woke up at 3 am and arrived at the Albany station, where we sat behind two people we assumed (again) were the most annoying people on the train (oh how wrong we were.) These two ladies took up the only 8 seats with room on the floor for extra baggage in the car. They talked to each other about  what great humanitarian social democrats they were while my wife and I struggled to stow all our luggage where we could. They had no luggage of their own.

On our way down, someone committed suicide by jumping in front of the train we were riding. Yes I'm serious. Pro tip: If this ever happens to you, forget about your vacation and just go home. It's been cursed.  The great Miss Social Democrat Humanitarian immediately began to talk about how horribly inconvenient this was for her. She also discussed how tragic it was that there weren't enough vegetarian restaurants in the super behind-the-times area I was born and raised in when compared to New York City. All this while the authorities literally cleaned the victim off the train with paper towels. Yes, clearly we've got our priorities all screwed up in upstate New York.

3 hours later we were on the platform waiting for a replacement train when we ran into the true most annoying people on the train, a family of 4. While everybody else was rather quiet and shocked, the mother of this family was ranting and raving about how terrible this was for her and how Amtrak had better make this up to them or else. We sat as far away from them as we could.

We arrived in Penn Station far too late to catch our connecting train, the superliner to Miami. We would have to wait a few more hours and take a normal train down. We never got to experience the train we went out of our way to reserve, but that was unavoidable. Frankly, I'd have traded into taking a bus to avoid being on a train that killed someone on our way downstate in a heartbeat.

Amtrak gave us access to their 1st class lounge and told us to just take any of the food and drink there while we waited. Honestly, I don’t know what else they could have done for us. My atitude changed later when their toilets started to explode at me, but more about that later.

Shortly after we got situated at a table in the back of the lounge we heard an ungodly commotion near the entrance. The true most annoying people had arrived and their 7 year old daughter was a monster. She harassed the staff, made a mess of everything, grabbed other people’s luggage and even other people themselves. She took pamphlets off the rack and threw them all over the place and her parents did nothing to stop her.

Finally we got on our replacement train, got our seats, and were horrified to find that the true most annoying people were seated directly behind.

The girl wasted no time in making our lives a living hell. She climbed our seats, pushed the buttons and pulled the levers on them, climbed uninvited into our kids seats and harassed them, swung from my armrest and did everything else you can imagine. We gathered what we would needed to entertain ourselves and retreated to the lounge car. 5 minutes later she appeared, dragging her entire family behind her. Clearly, she ran the show in that household.

We got back to our seats as quickly as possible and they followed us again. She was even more worked up than before. I placed my carryon on my armrest in an attempt to keep her from using it as a swing. In retaliation, she stabbed something into the back of my arm. She didn’t break the skin or anything like that, but enough was enough. I found an attendant and they moved us 2 cars away from them. We were very grateful.

That night, for several hours while we were trying to sleep, some jackss wannabe gangsters sat behind my kids talking as loudly as possible about drugs, sex, violent crime, jail, and anything else they thought would make them look "street". They were most likely posers, but still, I didn't want to take chances. My kids were sleeping soundly thank God, so I put on my headphones and ignored them, only occasionally taking my earbuds out check and make sure the kids were OK. I didn't sleep much...

The next day, the septic tanks under the toilets began to fill up.

The way a train toilet operates is, when flushed, it opens a plug at the bottom of the basin, then forcefully washes water down the side of the bowl, forcing it down through that plug into the septic tank. When the septic tank gets full, that water being forced down through the hole hits the water that’s extremely close to the plug, causing it to splash back.

I discovered this first hand. It was pretty gross. Thankfully it was only a couple of hours until we reached our destination, then our hotel.

The two brightest points in this vacation were actually the two nights we stayed at the hotel. The first night we were there, we awoke to find dolphins swimming in the canal underneath our hotel window. That was pretty cool. That was also the morning we boarded a Carnival cruise ship. Ugh.

I think there are maybe 5 people who work for Carnival that actually enjoy their job, and meeting some of our fellow passengers for the first time I’m not surprised. The guy who checked us in wasn't pleasant at all, even though my wife and I both tried to be pretty charming. Once we got to the waiting area it all made sense.

Apparently someone had started a jackass competition and the clear winner was the woman who sat there screaming, and I do mean screaming into her cell phone. She was obviously angry and miserable and wanted the entire room to be just as upset as she was. It was working. I saw someone actually almost throw something at her.

When we lined up to go to the shuttle bus, the guy in front of us was way too into playing with his cell phone than following directions. The lady trying to contain all of us (who I have to say, was actually quite delightful and pleasant) had to go out of her way to explain the process to him multiple times. He still screwed it up.

When we got on the shuttle, the woman behind us was another complainer. This one was talking to her seat partner, but was obviously going out of her way to make sure her volume was at a level so just about anybody could hear her. Her complaint? The shuttle wasn't going to her ship first. Seriously.

My wife and I were still pretty devoted to not letting any of this ruin our vacation, and were going to enjoy ourselves. We had been pretty successful in insulating our kids from a lot of this so far. Then we got on the boat.

The entire point to this trip was a mini family reunion of sorts. My father’s side of the family was mostly present, 20+ Grants all eager for a great time. We had made arrangements with the cruise line a year in advance so that we would all be on the same floor, in adjacent rooms, and all our balconies would be connected (the dividing walls can be removed if a guest requests it.) Carnival gave them the only 5 rooms where the dividing walls cannot be removed, and actually put my family on a completely different floor. They refused to fix this error in any way.

OK, that's enough for one day. I'm not done yet though, I've got at least one more comedy of errors style blog to write about all of this. I also have another one I want to write about the time when a complete stranger did something pretty amazing for us for no reason at all. In the mean time, I've just wrapped up 999, which was outstanding, and I'm going to get going on either Etrian Odyssey IV or Fire Emblem on my 3DS. Anybody have a suggestion as to which I should play first?



Travis Hawks Senior Editor

03/02/2013 at 09:13 PM

Wow, this sounds terrible in almost every way.  Vacationing with kids can be stressful just because of your kids, but you had a LOT of other stuff working against you.  I guess you appreciate home more now, though!

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:38 PM

I love home. Honestly some of my best vacations were staycations, but I did love the last cruise I was on


03/02/2013 at 09:23 PM

Oh my. Yes, you win the prize for worst vacation ever. I have encountered all the bad elements of your trip in my travels, but usually only one per trip. Bad travel elements should not be stackable. Thsi should be a karmic law.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:40 PM

It's only half way done. There's some whoppers coming in my next blog I assure you.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:30 PM

yeah that sounds pretty bad.  that's why I never leave the house. Looks like you made it out okay though.  

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:42 PM

Don't let this scare you too much, I've had some great vacations, and honestly the kids really loved it. This one though... not my favorite. Lession learned: Keep it simple. This one just had too many moving parts.


03/02/2013 at 09:33 PM

Wow, that truly was the The Vacation From hell!  

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:47 PM

To this point, my vacations were pretty much flawless. I think all the bad stuff got stored up, then dumped all at once on this one. It's pretty amazing.


03/02/2013 at 09:40 PM

I've only been on a bus/train cross-country a couple of times, as living in the West necessitates that most trips will be done on the freeway in one's own vehicle, but yeah, that sounds like hell.  I think the wannabe gangstas would probably be the real deal-killers for me. :)

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:43 PM

I was fine until I got the poop stew on my pants. The only think that kept me from puking was the thought that I'd have to puke in that toilet

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:46 PM

I think if it were me, I'd have screamed at those parents to start disciplining their child or I would (or punch the dad in the face at least).

I'm 23, but my grandpa and his generation saw fit to discipline the neighbors' kids, and while I don't necessarily think it should go back to that, and was raised on mostly time outs and the like (I was pretty well-behaved though, so I think that has more to do with spankings being rare) replace spanking with SOMETHING for Christ's sake, enough is enough. Seven year olds should never run things.

As a former Assistant Hall Director who had to deal with the 18 year olds from the "kids are the world" generation last year, my deepest sympathies.

And that Humanitarian Social Democrat sounds like a real charmer, and not at all a hypocrite, too. Undecided

And not even the people, but the service you set out for years in advance was terrible? Yeesh! A letter to their customer service AT LEAST should be in order.

I'm still wondering if by Carnival cruise you mean ... THE Carnival cruise, i.e. the one on the news.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:48 PM

No we were on a different one, lol. I think we reached our quota of exploding toilets on the train ride.

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/02/2013 at 09:58 PM

22* excuse me. And that's good, I was wondering about that, cause then, considering their bus broke down, you might have had to go through that three times! Yeesh! haha

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/02/2013 at 10:01 PM

Oh I'm actually not done with bad toilets yet. Just you wait.

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/03/2013 at 08:04 AM

Oh shit! ...


03/03/2013 at 12:13 AM

Man, sorry to hear about your trip.  I guess I can't complain about any of my trips now.  Perhaps you could get a vacation for your vacation to actually relax?


03/03/2013 at 08:34 PM

Man, that does suck.  That girls parents are what is wrong with our country.  Violent video games aren't the problem, if is shitty parents.  Unfortunately, that girl is going to grow up and be the loud complainer lady.  If only you could have found a way to get some revenge on them with the exploding toilets.


03/03/2013 at 08:49 PM

Oh, hey, should have shoved the brat in the bathroom and held the door shut!


03/29/2013 at 05:18 PM

In Minneapolis I watched a guy standing on the edge of a sidewalk with the intention to jump into oncoming traffic. Today I would have tried to talk him out of it but at that point in my life I was so miserable suicide was on my mind as well. (College is stressful shit. I don't care if movies portray it as one big party. That's balderdash!)

Luckily, I can befriend and get along with most kids but one of my female buddies has a son that is a whirling screaming human tornado. Every time she mentions bringing him along I flinch inside!

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