From Los Angeles to Kansas City
At Union train station, taking a whiz in the urinal at the end of the row, next to the handicap stall, I hear a raspy voiced person begin to speak.” Yeah this is going to be interesting, that skid row shit they served me is starting to blow itself out. Why they have to feed us that shit. Not like they have to serve us god damn steak.” The man grunts. “Thank god I’m finished,” he says in a relieved voice.
Ragged cowboy hat, pot belly, scruffy beard sprinkled blonde and gray, walking down the aisle of the lounge car, he stops halfway in the middle. The car is silent with everyone reading, listening to their music player, or playing on their phones. “Man, it’s too damn quiet in here. We need some music.” He bellows out and breaks out singing Frank Sinatra, “Fly me to the moon, let me play among….” He keeps singing until he leaves the lounge car to head into the coach car.
Man talking to woman behind me starts discussing some very commonplace items. “Buffet owns all the railroads west of the Mississippi, so trains can only run when he says they can run. Amtrak can only go behind freight trains, global warming is causing all this weird weather, did you know that a hurricane can spawn tornadoes, many people don’t know that. Its all because of global warming.” Only interesting part to me is he mentioned that he’s been married for over 39 years, a couple of kids, one being a teacher. He talks about being laid off from work and different jobs several times over his career. He’s 69 years old and still needs to work to afford his standard of living. He mentions he’s an advanced engineer and designed quite a few systems(although he didn’t mention his discipline). I so desperately want to ask what type of engineer and which field, especially since he’s been laid off several times. Not a very good one evidently. (Ok, I crossed the line)
Lady sitting at the next table over in the lounge car; I sneezed a couple of times and she was kind enough to offer a couple of Kleenex tissues. Then she offered a couple of napkins, and a couple more tissues. “You know, that might not be enough,” she says. She reaches into her magical bag of tricks and gives me a baby wipe. “Here, this will help clean your computer in case anything got on your screen or keyboard.” I accept the offertory and thank her. She sits back down at the lounge table, goes back through her bag and pulls out a stack of napkins imprinted with “Subway” and hands them to me. “Just in case,” she says. Thank goodness I didn’t cough; I may have had to be decontaminated.
So later, the woman who offered the tissue and napkins is in the lounge again. Apart from the extensive story of woe she describes, she keeps bringing up that she believes she’s being followed and the government is tracking her. People she talked to either work for the police, government, and the like so they must be finding out information about her. Here we go. After a few minutes of listening to her diatribe, she mentions that she’s bipolar. “Bingo!”
From Kansas City to Los Angeles
While standing in line at the lounge car to get a hot chocolate, a person with the appearance of a Rastafarian, slightly heavy, and almost perfect English is talking with another guy. Both are in the line ahead of me.
“Man, I really need to stop doing shrooms. Last time some lady came up and asked, hey what happened to the whites of your eyes.’I went to go look in a mirror and my pupils were so large. Man, I looked like I was warping in and out of the mirror. Man what a trip. I can’t be doing that stuff anymore.” He paused for a second, and then continued, “can’t wait till I get off the train so I can smoke some weed.”
A passenger decides to talk to an Amish mother and father travelling with their toddler daughter.
“So where are you guys from?”
“So what state did you get on at?” (Legitimate question)
“So what city did you get on at?”
“La Plata, there’s an Amish community near there.”
“So is there an Amish community in Illinois?”
“Yes, La Plata.”
“I didn’t know you could take a train?”
“It’s one of the ways we believe we can travel. We’re needing to go to San Diego and then down to Mexico to visit a friend there for medical treatment. He has cancer.”
“Oh…so what city are you travelling to?”
“Oh, is there an Amish community in San Diego.”
“No, we're going down to Mexico.”
“Oh, why you going to Mexico.”
“Going to visit to a friend who has cancer.”
“Oh, well hope you have fun down there.”
I can’t even explain the look on the Amish husband’s face.