Monday, November 25, 2013

Sorry About That

I feel pretty terrible right now. Hell, I’ve felt pretty rotten most of the day.

You see, when I woke up this morning, one of the first things that grabbed my attention was a news report that a train traveling from New Orleans had derailed in South Carolina on its way to New York.

Why do I feel bad about this?

Well, of course, I shouldn’t. It’s not like I had anything to do with it. I didn’t! But my mama raised me Catholic, so I can feel guilt over anything.

This was all brought home to me because last week a cousin of mine asked me about my own recent trip to New York on this very train. She had friends who were going up that way, and she wanted to know my opinion of Amtrak. I thought I was fair, if rather kind, about the trip.

Were the cars comfortable?

Well, yes, as far as that goes. There’s going to be some discomfort in traveling anywhere in anything. I shared a roomette with another person (along with the four allotted bags under fifty pounds Amtrak allows two people to keep with them), which is something I will probably not do again. I like to spread, and I found I could not easily do that in this roomette. (Don’t even ask me about the tiny toilet the trains’ designers have wedged into a corner of each roomette. That is just a horrible gag played on us ticket holders. Not funny, guys.)

Did the train wobble?

Yes, it did. American trains are known to wobble, unlike, say, the Orient Express. Of course, I don’t know the truth about the Orient Express. I only know that in the movies I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem to shake and rattle like our Amtraks do. But then the only time you need to worry about this is when you’re making your way to the dining car, and even then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The aisles are so narrow, and the train shakes from side to side, that you don’t have room to fall down. Unlike the up escalator in Penn Station that knocked both Bobby and me onto our butts.

Can you smoke on the train?

Of course not! Unless you’re one of the two bimbos in the roomette next to us who never missed a chance to light up anything that could be lit. It did no good to complain. The attendant was all, “Oh, really? That’s not right. We can’t have that.” Then a minute later, you’d hear the scratch of a match, an inhaled breath, and the”aahhh” of somebody’s satisfaction. Obviously, the bimbos were doing something right that was just so wrong.

I guess, I sold my cousin on the train, because right after I’d seen the news report this morning, I got a message from here alerting me to the event.

Perhaps I should have told her more of the negative stuff so she could have warned her friends, but the way I figure it, any kind of travel is a risk—not only to life and limb, but to comfort, as well.

Which is why I pretty much stay indoors here at home. I mean, I’ve tripped and fallen on my face on the sidewalks of New Orleans.

But that’s another story, and I’ve already told that one. In fact, if I remember right, I told it so many times that a reader from Japan wrote me to tell me to get a life, let go of it, and move on.

And I did. As I hope have my cousin’s friends, who are probably nestled all snug and warm now, investigating alternate means of getting back home.


  1. As Candy's friends who took your wonderful advice about taking the train(!), We are ok. We were on the 5th car, the one behind the Cafe. It was a WILD ride. We had just dosed off about 1130, when at midnight there came some strange bumps and skidding in the gravel for I don't know how long. The thoughts that run thru your head since it was so dark and all we could see were trees. The smells were of stuff burning, we didn't have a smokey cabin but the last train was filled with smoke. We heard from the folks that were riding in it that they jumped around and fishtailed and were scared out of their minds. We had just cleared a bridge. What happened, we don't know. The front 3 cars stayed on the tracks, the rest of us jumped off. We had a terrible fear of tumbling down the side, but we just stopped and the power turned off. We made it to Union Station at 720pm. 12 hours late but alive and well. Yes we are returning to Louisiana via Amtrak. They say lightening doesn't strick twice!

    1. You've gotta be a full-blooded Cajun, right? That's the only reason I can see for you to get back on that big iron thing to get yourself home! Me, I'd probably settle in DC or coerce some friend or family member to come up and get me ;-)


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