“This is a reminder that all customers must keep their shoes on at all times while riding the train”
To avoid the price of continuing to use a rental car charging us an arm, leg, three fingers and our luggage (because we were under 25/they probably knew I would get annoyed with driving and make Sameea drive..dundundunnnnn) we decided to take a train from California to Oregon.
The "Coast Starlight" leaving from SF to Portland takes 14 hours. Says the Amtrak ticket.
Our train took 17 hours, 39 minutes, and 7 screaming babies.
In no way, shape or form am I exaggerating. 18 hours. Overnight. Screaming. Babies.
This is the story of that train ride through Oregon, no doubt the weirdest state I’ve ever visited because of it. I’m copyrighting this for future use as a sitcom. I’d title it “AmTrash”- no offense to Oregonians, but keep reading for true understanding.
When we boarded the Coast Starlight (suitably sounding like a bunk on the Titanic) it was 1:15am, when in reality we should’ve been getting on it around 11:30pm. It was an overnight ride running extremely behind schedule, which oooobviously we bought using our super-efficient Low Cost Strategy. Ask us how far the concept has gotten us in life: many places, some unfortunate, all occupied by ludicrous characters.
Sameea and I were wide awake and had the sole priority of passing out to wake up in a new city. Just to reference- my main traveling compadre could fall asleep during the Apocolypse. There could be helicopters crashing, earthquakes splitting the middle of her room in half, zombies growling in her window, and the b-tch would snore through it all. So homegirl passes out as soon as her chair is reclined.
Meanwhile, I go to recline my chair and the part that should hold up my knees and below, so for my shrimp size should hold up my entire legs, is completely broken. I’m immediately annoyed. I move over to the open seats across the aisle and get comfortable laying across both seats like I own the place. Let the madness begin.
Not even 40 minutes in, I’m shaken awake by a larger woman of sorts who is LITCHRALLY (insert British accent) screaming in my face. It’s 2am at this point, I’ve been traveling for days now, your breath stinks lady, this is not ideal. I don’t understand what she’s saying because I’m half-awake but I’m pretty sure it’s something about her seat so I move back to unconscious-Sameea’s side and attempt once more to peace out. Instead, two toddlers arrive onboard (4am) obviously PISSED their parents moved them onto an aggressively-wobbly moving contraption. Sounds erupt from their tiny mouthholes that could be confused with the train brakes SCREECHING to a halt. I have 15 more hours of this to go.
By now, my human instinct kicks in and my normally-non-existent memory kicks in. I realized I packed Melatonin for this exact occasion. I pop 1-4 and pretend they’re going to make the children sleep at the same time. I drift into a nightmare of sorts where I can’t fall asleep and the woman next to me has turned on music on her cellphone, without headphones. Meaning I didn’t fall asleep and the woman next to me turned on music on her cellphone, without headphones. I’m at the tipping point. PLEASE use HEADPHONES if you’re going to listen to HARDCORE RAP at 5 IN THE MORNING, I say calmly.
Lifeless Sameea has now been startled awake- more from my abrupt movements than my soothing voice I’m sure- and grumpily advises, “Dude, just go to bed”. I want to laugh but I think I cry…myself to sleep.
We wake up a few hours later to realize it’s daytime now and everyone is up and about doing nameless things. Which is when we heard the loudspeaker announcement, “This is a reminder that all customers must keep their shoes on at all times while riding the train”. Followed by “There is no smoking allowed anywhere on this train” and your standard “Please remember to flush the toilet after using the lavatory”. But wait- there’s more! We go downstairs to get some lunch, and maybe a much-needed beer, only to find the snack car is being blocked off by a train steward (?). “Excuse me, where can we get food?”
“Not on this train honey, somebody had an accident in the bathroom down here. Let’s just say they didn’t make it into the toilet.”
Dear God, get me off this train. Seriously though, the story keeps going.
We go upstairs to the look-out car where normally people can take their snacks they just purchased and look out the all window-ed section of the train, and sit down, contemplating what to do with our remaining 8 or so hours. We start talking to a guy next to us, also amused by the snack car situation. As we start to chat the following announcement is heard, “To the Amish couple who was just eating in the dining car,” (separate from the snack car by the way) “could you please come back and retrieve the ticking device you left behind. Not sure what it is- it’s ticking though-“. Now, I’ve never worked on a train, and hopefully I never will, but I’m pretty sure the first thing they teach is to never make an announcement about an unknown ticking device that basically describes a bomb. The funny part is, we end up joining the two Oregonian guys we were talking to in the dining car as the Amish man comes back for his tickerbomb. I immediately stop him to ask what it was in the end. He describes some part of a car and I think to myself, in the sitcom I write for this train he will be the ironic Amish Electrician. As he walks away, the train comes to an awkward, jolting stop. “Literally, we’re never getting out of here”. Announcer, “Excuse the stop customers, there seems to be a…uh…situation on the side of the train tracks”.
Basically, someone was naked walking next to the train. Casually. Walking. #ICant
When we finally do get off the train, and back to what we think will be civilization, I feel like I’ve traveled back in time into an episode of the Twilight Zone. Or the Twilight Saga (the one with the vampires in love).
Both would be fitting in Portland.