Epic Amtrak Adventure: Of Virtual Friends and Facebook’s Amazing Grace

Some stories bear repeating.

Like this one, a recap of a recent day trip I took from New Hampshire to New York City and back. I’m simply reposting the short chain of events directly from my Facebook page.

Although it may read at first like any other self-involved series of Facebook posts, I urge you to read through to where the magic of Facebook takes over, at about 11 p.m. 

For me, it’s a powerful lesson on the intrinsic value of “following” the adventures of others online – even people we’ve never actually met. The connectivity we have at our finger tips, and the happy endings that connectivity sometimes leads to, is what this techno-life is all about.

And special thanks, again, to Michael Reed, for being there.

April 30, 2014 8:30 a.m. (posted shortly after boarding an Amtrak train in Boston)

tripphoto1Impromptu trip to NYC to deliver James Neil’s big suitcase … so he can move back to the U.S. with most of his stuff. Travel time: 14 hours round trip via bus and train. Son time: 5.2 hours. Long day but fun adventure.




[Quick Video]

April 30, 2014 8:45 a.m. (Posted shortly after the conductor made me smile)tripphoto2

Today I celebrate #Amtrak and this guy, the wry conductor pretending to hate his job, but really making me feel great about this ride when he rallies with a “So far, so good,” after my “Good morning,” volley. He efficiently scanned my eTicket with a gadget 10 minutes after departure. I didn’t have to stand in line, or take off my shoes. There is enough leg room for a team of horses. I have an electrical outlet next to my seat, and wifi. I carried my coffee and breakfast sandwich on and am lingering over it as we roll past woods full of resurrecting trees and meadows, a puddled ball field and bridge graffiti. I have time to think and breath and fill out my NH Employment weekly claim form. I have time to consider that life is always about the journey, staying connected, having enough gas to go the extra mile, and above all, squeezing as much goodness out of every day, no excuses.

April 30, 2014 7 p.m. (Posted shortly after boarding the Amtrak at Penn Station in NYC, one hour later than scheduled, bound for Boston).photo (2)

Whirlwind NYC adventure over. James Neil looked so young and handsome and was a good navigator. photo (3)My umbrella didn’t make it a block out of Penn Station, but thanks to Lauren Goglick for the spare. Train home is one hour behind schedule but I should make the last bus home. — with James Neil.


April 30, 2014 10:45 p.m.  [Posted after asking the conductor what time we were going to be in Boston, and realizing I would miss the last train to NH, due to the one-hour departure delay.]

Do I know anyone who is in Boston right now heading for NH? I am about to miss the last bus out of South Station.

  • Michael Reed Carol, I am landing in Logan in about an hour. Inbox me if you still need a ride.
  • Nikki Arguin I can come pick you up if you need a ride?
  • Marie-Steve Fisher if I was there I’d pick you up
  • Carol Robidoux Aw Nikki thanks. I think I am going to try and find Michael at Logan. And Marie, I know you would!!
  • Nikki Arguin Coolio! If something happens, Ill be up for awhile… just message 
  • Janine Iamunno Obviously we need to know that you made it home okay!
  • Suzanne Blanchard Hope you’re home safe!
    May 1, 2014 10 a.m. [Posted after realizing my followers were waiting to find out how my virtual SOS played out. It’s where the story goes from “eh” to EPIC, in my humble opinion.]
  • Carol Robidoux And the hero of our story is Michael Reed, who swooped in from Philadelphia, via Atlanta, and found me like a forgotten bag on the carousel of hopelessness in Terminal B at Logan Airport, where I managed to arrive after crying over spilt milk and other unidentifiable remnants of the day at a table of homeless guys hunkered down in the South Station concourse. I learned that although I missed the last bus to NH, there was still one more bus, the Silver Line, to Logan. I hopped it like a lovestruck bunny and got off at the first stop. Not knowing the details of Michael’s flight, I wandered the terminal on foot, looking for one comprehensive “arrivals” sign board to find any arriving flights from Philly. After about 30 minutes of terminal purgatory, Michael texted to say he was heading to US Air baggage claim. I hoofed it from Terminal C to Terminal B, and flagged down a young man with a name badge to point me in the right direction. He pushed me out the sliding doors and said, “Try the arrival terminal.” Minutes later, Michael was there and graciously offered to drive me all the way to Londonderry to get my car, even though he only had to go to Nashua. He said it was his anniversary, and if his wife were in a similar predicament, he’d hope that someone would show her the same kindness. My day ended on that feel-good note, 21 hours later, and in all, I’d say it was a fine ending to a great adventure.
    23 hours ago · Edited · Like · 18
  • Carol Robidoux OH, and the BIG PS is that Michael and I have never met in person, that I can recall. But we met through my job at Nashua Patch. Michael, a frequent flyer for his work, contributed some blogs on his experience at various airports, with tips and advice. We became FB friends sometime after that, and if not for my virtual SOS I’d have spent the night searching the terminal trashcans for a midnight snack with my homeless guy compadres.
    23 hours ago · Edited · Like · 13
  • Sydney Irving Wow, it goes to show you that there really are awesome people out there. Kudos to a true gentleman
  • Judy Blachek A fantastic Facebook story!
    23 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Diane Sheehan 2014-virtual hitchhiker
  • Rosemarie Rung Carol, the goodness of people always comes through, even when you cross the line into despair! LOVE THAT MICHAEL REED!!!
  • Diane Sheehan Phew, glad I accepted his friend request! Haha.
  • Lee Guerette Wonderful – the absolute provides — absolutely !
  • Michael Reed Thank you for the sweet story. It was great to finally meet you. Long appreciated and respected your work on patch. Sorry for talking your ear off 
  • Bridget Gavaghan Everman FB to the rescue! What a great story! Thanks, Michael for taking care of Cousin Carol!
  • Jean McBryar Don’t worry Michael Reed, Carol Robidoux loves it when someone talks her ear off!
  • Nikki Arguin Glad you made it home safely!
  • Carol Robidoux Nikki, thanks again for your generous offer. Nashuans are amazing!
    19 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Debbie Boland great story Carol. It is your good Karma at work !!!!
  • Linda Masten So happy that you made it home safely! I also am smiling while reading your story. Your fantastic way of writing keeps us all enchanted. Your next title in life should be author!
  • Pat Grossmith Thank you, Michael Reed, for rescuing a wonderful, kind and giving friend.


One thought on “Epic Amtrak Adventure: Of Virtual Friends and Facebook’s Amazing Grace”

  1. While Facebook has its detractors, stories like this show that it can enhance your life. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen an SOS on Facebook. Wonderful story!

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