Friday, May 1, 2009

Morning in Missouri

After being wowed by my early arrival in Albuquerque the day before, I was shaken back to reality when I arrived at the train station yesterday and learned that the train was an hour late. Usually you're not quite sure who to blame for these delays, but this time it was pretty clear. Apparently, two guys had gotten on the train in California and they got sick (i.e. puked) all over the coach car. They stopped the train as soon as they could, called an ambulance to rush these guys to the hospital, and got everyone else off that train car. People weren't sure what to think, and swine flu was on everyone's mind. All the coach passengers crowded into the lounge car until they could pick up a new car somewhere in Arizona. And that's why the train was late. I missed all the excitement, but I pieced together the report from a few key witnesses. This morning, one of the conducters announced that they had received word from the hospital that the guys did not have swine flu. Apparently, they were just "sick" from overdoing it in Mexico for a few days. So, thanks drunk guys for making us late.

In other news- today is Amtrak Employee Appreciation Day. The staff are all wearing buttons to let us know, and I've been doing my best to appreciate them. I asked a staff member in the lounge car if they're getting anything from Amtrak to mark the day. She said they got brownies before the train left LA, though technically that was two days before Appreciation Day. Maybe I should order balloons or something?

And one last thing- this is the third long-haul train I've been on, and they all have the same problem. There are no power outlets at the seats. In fact, there are only three outlets for all the coach passengers to share. Actually, there are four but plugging something into that last one is somehow a fire hazard. So you have to hover around the outlets until one opens up- then race to it and plug in your electronics. As soon as you plug in, you start getting looks from all the other power-thirsty riders which I can only stand for twenty minutes or so. Then it's time to unplug my laptop, edit for another hour, then start the hovering game again. I hope they've allotted some of this transportation stimulus money to put in a few more plugs.

We're currently somewhere in Missouri, passing through rolling hills and the occasional woods. I've spotted about five wild turkeys from the train this morning. Yesterday I saw some sort of antelope. And earlier today I also spotted a loveseat abondoned near the tracks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed to see a bear or a chaise lounge next.

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