I haven’t been on an Amtrak train since the summer after my sophomore year of high school when I went with the French club to Quebec for a summer exchange program. The Amtrak service out of and in to Chicago is notoriously bad. And then there is the story of my friend Tricia and her family taking an extended weekend trip and Amtrak losing every piece of her family’s luggage. So I have resisted taking a trip by rail, even though it always seems like a great way to see the country.
Brian stayed in Pardeeville this week and in order to avoid him making a 5-6 hour round trip to come pick me up, I found an Amtrak line with a station less than 10 miles from Pardeeville. I decided to give it a go.
I had to switch seats three times within five minutes of boarding, even though the conductor gave me a yellow ticket and said to sit anywhere in car 711. I stepped on and turned to the right, sat down and the Blue-haired Biddy Brigade started yelling at me and the guy who followed me: This is the seeeenior section!! If you’re not a seeeenior, you have to go upstairs!!!!
Ok. I gathered my things and headed upstairs, turned to the left and sat down.
“Are you a cooouuuple?”
“A couple. Is there one of you or two of you???” asked the slightly younger blue-hair who was apparently too young for the seeeeenior section, but wanted to be the hall monitor of something, as well.
I looked to my left, then my right. No one on either side. “One of me, I guess.”
“Couples to the left, singles to the right!!”
After my confused look, she mumbled something about seats to the left being saved for couples traveling together.
So, I picked up my bags once again, moved to the right and sat down and watched the same scenario replayed each time someone new came up the stairs. There were apparently a lot more singles than couples since the singles section was filling up awfully fast. But the upstairs hall monitor was not going to allow anyone to break the (seemingly made-up)rules and sit in the couple section if they were a single. No-sir-ree.
I ended up the lucky seat mate of Smacky McSmackalot. I thought conditions would improve once she finished the Chinese take-out she brought on board, but no more than 15 minutes later, she opened up a bag of peanuts and started cracking shells and smacking on the treasures found inside like each one was the last bite of food that would ever touch her mouth.
About this time, a lovely woman came on the speaker system to announce that the lounge car was open for business!! See ya, Smacky!!
As I sat in the lounge car sipping my overpriced beverage, I started appreciating the beauty of traveling by rail, minus the ridiculous refreshment prices. The leaves have already started to turn colors and the view of them from the glass-domed lounge car was beautiful. When I turned around to take in the view from the other side, I saw a sign. A sign that the weekend was gonna be a good one.