Fly the Friendly Skies? Talking to Myself Again

Overheard in the grocery store… Wait, no, overheard in my mind (sorry, I get the two confused). A conversation with myself…
——
“Linda, why on earth would you take a train trip across the country for two weeks, when you could fly across and back in a single day?”
“Well, Alt-Linda, I hate flying.”
“So do birds, Linda, but you don’t see them complaining.”
“Birds don’t hate flying.”
“Well, you get my point, though.”
“No, not really.”
“You actually hate flying?”
“No, I’m just faking all those heart palpitations and that vomiting whenever a plane trip gets closer. Like, a year in advance.”
“But why take a train? For two weeks? To essentially do nothing but take the train?”
“Think of the adventure, Alt-Linda! The romantic lure of the rails! The glorious susurrus of the train as it glides across landscapes far and wide!”
“Susurrus? You just made that up.”
“No, it’s a real word. Honest. Look it up.”
“I’d have to know how to spell it to look it up.”
“Well, it’s right here on the screen.”
“Not yet it’s not. You’re still transcribing this conversation. And it’s not even a real conversation. It’s just you talking to yourself. Again.”
“Don’t be a smart-ass. It’s going to be an adventure, Alt-Linda. I can’t wait!”
“You’re lucky this conversation is all in your head. I bet you can’t pronounce susurrus.”
“Shut up. Nobody’s talking to you.”
“Except you.”
I’m you. Well, you know what I mean.”
“Rarely, but let’s move on, Linda. So, let me get this straight. You’re going to pay these Amtrak people a lot of money—”
“I already did. They charged my credit card, like, a nanosecond after I pushed ‘Submit.’”
“Okay, so, you paid these Amtrak people a lot of money to sit in a big metal box on wheels that’s going to go careening across the country at nowhere-near-breakneck speed… for two weeks.”
“Well, yes, but…”
“And at periodic intervals you’re going to go to a different metal box on wheels—attached to the first box on wheels and a bunch of other boxes on wheels—to get expensive food.”
“It’s included in the price, though.”
“Which was expensive.”
“You’re completely missing the point.”
“And at other periodic intervals you’re going to lie down and sleep in your original metal box—in a teeny, smaller box inside the bigger metal box, a box so small that they’ll give you a crowbar to get in and out of bed.”
“It’s included in the price, though.”
“Which was expen—”
“Okay, okay. What’s your point?”
“We haven’t even made it to Chicago yet in this scenario. Do I really need a point?”
“But it’s going to be—”
“If you use the word ‘adventure’ one more time I’m going to smack you.”
“That’d be quite a trick.”
“Back to your flawed thinking: If you get bored in the teeny tiny metal box or aren’t hungry enough to go to the metal food box—”
“They have tablecloths in the dining car.”
“Oh, well, THAT changes everything.”
“I sense sarcasm.”
“Moi?”
“I still don’t see your point.”
“My point, Linda, is that your definition of ‘adventure’ is rather low, don’t you think?”
“Potato, potahto.”
“You’re always bringing up food.”
“Only when I think about flying.”
“That’s a gross, disgusting play on words.”
“You’re the one who brought up bringing up food.”
“Back to my original point! Where’s your sense of adventure if all you’re doing is sitting in big metal boxes, eating food, sleeping, writing, and showering in tiny cubicles with flexible hoses recently used by complete strangers?”
“I’m bringing my Kindle along.”
“That’s it. I’m outta here. Taxi!”
“Don’t call for a taxi. Take the train.”
“You’re out of your mind.”
“No, you’re out of my mind.”
“Oh, shut up!”
*****

Already I’m Confused

I bought a money belt for the big train trip in May. I’m not sure if I already feel safer, or if I’m going to end up in a seedy hostel in California, bleeding in a bathtub with my pancreas harvested for money. (Joke’s on them, though. I’m diabetic. You couldn’t give my pancreas away on Craigslist, even if you tacked on a free Hatchimal.)

The money belt itself is fine, but it came with a little flyer labeled “Useful Travel Safety Tips.” I’m eager to read anything that even tangentially relates to this trip, so I sat down to read through their list of 50 helpful (and not-so-helpful) tips. I’ll elaborate more on these in an early chapter of the book, but here’s a glimpse for the voyeuristic among you:

“If possible, take a self-defense class.”

Great. This hadn’t even occurred to me. Do fistfights routinely break out on Amtrak trains? There’ll be a fight over the good seats in the observation car somewhere around Colorado, won’t there?

“Bring a portable door or window alarm.”

The first time I read that, I saw “Bring a portable door” and panicked that the trains might not have doors. Still, even with the rest of the sentence factored in, I find this suggestion a little disturbing.

“Be on the lookout for anybody who is offering to help you with your bags at a train or bus station.”

Because it would be horrible if a Red Cap actually HELPED me lug that suitcase up to my Roomette! The horrors!

These next four really are back to back on the flyer:

“Trust your instincts and use your intuition and gut feeling when dealing with strangers.”

“Make a local friend.”

“Try to dress like a local.”

“In some places, it helps wearing a fake wedding ring.”

I don’t even know where to start with these four. All I know is that, by the time I finished reading #7, I had so many questions that I was weeping uncontrollably.

  • What if my gut instincts tell me NOT to make a local friend?
  • To dress like a local in Los Angeles, do I have to wear an Ed Hardy shirt and Birkenstocks and grow a hipster beard?
  • Why can’t I just wear my real wedding ring? After all, it looks fake in the right lighting…

“If you get lost, do not look at your phone or a map in the middle of the street.”

… because you’ll get hit by a car. Duh.

——

There are 42 more of these gems in this flyer. After reading all these, I may not be able to work up the courage to get to the station, let alone get on the train.