So our final day in Milwaukee started off innocently enough, before going off the rails a bit…
Breakfast was crepes with strawberries. Again, the dining room was full, but I buried my face behind a newspaper so that eager chatty-Kathys would leave me alone.
After getting dressed and packed we took a cab to the Amtrak station, where we were supposed to meet our Megabus. Yup, supposed.
We got to the station about an hour early, so we sat in the frigid lobby waiting until about half an hour before our leave time. We went out and saw a Megabus with a flashing sign that read, “Chicago! Milwaukee! Minneapolis!” Assuming it was ours, we went over to it, and my partner started to load the luggage. As I waited patiently in line, the bus driver started checking people in and turned someone away, saying, “I’m not going to Chicago.”
Some more people rushed up, seeing that the bus was pretty full. A lady turned to us, “Is this bus going to Chicago?”
“No,” I said, “Just to Minneapolis.”
She turned to the driver who opened the door again, and asked, “Is this bus going to Chicago?”
He must’ve heard this quite a few times, because with exasperation he said, “No ma’am, ‘I am not going to Chicago…I’ll be going to Chicago tomorrow, but today.”
“Okay,” the woman said shrugging, “but it says on your bus, ‘Chicago’.”
“I don’t care what my bus says – it’s not the one driving, I’m saying that we’re not going to Chicago.”
And with a flourish he shut the door and drove off.
Soon another Megabus came by. We waiting dutifully in line as the driver hopped off and went to the back to open the cargo. Nothing happened, so with a furrowed brow he went back to his seat did some fiddling with some buttons and went back to the luggage cargo. Again it wouldn’t open. He then ran back to his seat and did some more fiddling. Other passengers got into the act, trying to pry the door off the luggage cargo, but it wouldn’t budge. This went on for sometime, but I finally overheard the driver say something about a hydraulic lock, and how he wasn’t used to them yet.
We looked with increasing frustration at the frustratingly calm driver as he kept punching his iPhone and going back and forth. Finally, he announced that he called a mechanic from another bus company to assist. He didn’t know when the mechanic would be there, and was instructed by the folks at Megabus to give his passengers the customer service number.
I called and waited for a long time, listening to Top 40 radio, until a woman answered and when I asked for updates, she told me to talk to the driver. When I informed her that the driver was told to give us her number, she simply said, “I don’t have any information.”
In the meantime, my partner ran to Amtrak and got us two train tickets in the eventuality that we would have to take a train back home. I say eventuality because that’s what we had to do – we were stranded on some curb in Milwaukee for over an hour and a half before deciding to hop on the rails to get back home.
I wish I could say that the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. For the most part it was. Except when we arrived at Chicago’s Union Station, we were told by countless employees to wait for our luggage at the baggage carousel. Doing as we were told, we waited dutifully for over 45 minutes, before I went and looked for someone to help us with what appeared to be our lost luggage.
I found the Amtrak boarding area and it looked insanely busy and crowded – like a scene from a film set in British-ruled India. I found a woman who was waving people through a door.
“I need help with luggage that’s possibly lost.”
“I need help with luggage that’s possibly lost. I just got back from Milwaukee and I checked in a bag.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying” – this is true, btw…
“I just got back from Milwaukee,” I repeated. “In Milwaukee I checked in some luggage and now it’s not here.”
“You need to go to the office and talk to someone.”
“I’m checking people in, sir,” She said to me helpfully.
So, I left the crowded room and found “the office” but this time was met by a very helpful lady who told me to go back to the baggage claim room because someone was on his way with my luggage.
I got back and a few minutes later, a sleepy-looking gentleman was dragging a huge pallet on wheels for my one, tiny suitcase on wheels.
I will, of course, be writing an email to the good folks at Megabus and ask for my return fare refunded or credited. All in all, though my four days in Milwaukee were pretty good.