The Gambler

Kenny Rogers in 2006/Dwight McCann

Kenny Rodgers once sang in The Gambler,

“You gotta know when to walk away, know when to run.”

I would not heed Kenny’s advice tonight.  Instead, I went all in on a 6:11p Dover local that stops at Secaucus Junction.  It is a decision that could have had me, as Kenny puts it in The Gambler, “On a train to nowhere…taking turns staring out the window”.  

NJ Transit’s suggested connection for the Port Jervis train I needed is the 6:03p Long Branch train that also stops at the Junction. But, the 6:03 train was delayed.  The snow storm messed up schedules up and down the North East Corridor.  Which in turn, messed up trains heading in and out of NY Penn Station. Which in turn, messed up the connections to the Hoboken-bound trains like the Port Jervis Line.  Connections are key for the transit system to work for many riders i.e. ME.  It is something that Kenny (and Dolly) brilliantly allude to in Islands in the Stream,

“We can rely on each other, uh huh.  From one lover to the other, uh huh.”

NJ Transit’s website allows you to check when trains depart.  And as I sat down – all smug  about my decision – I gave it a look and realized that the Long Branch train was boarding.  Kenny had been right.

“You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

I felt my knot form in my stomach as we chugged through the tunnel toward Secaucus.  My train home was scheduled to leave Secaucus at 6:23.  I watched the minute tick off.  6:20.  6:21.  6:22.  6:23…:24…:25…:26.  Oh, boy.  Dolly?  Any thoughts?

“Islands in the stream that is what we are.”

Ok.  So, Dolly was no help.  We pulled into Secaucus, finally.  Was the train still here?  I pushed ahead of a guy in earphones on the escelator and down to Track H.  Good news.  The PJ train was still in the station.  It was waiting for the Long Branch train.   It was the train I should have been on and perhaps saved me the stress.

This experience leaves me with this final thought from The Gambler.  

“If you’re gonna play the game, boy.  You gotta learn to play it right.”


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