Saturday, March 1, 2008

Amtrak: Portal to the Underworld

I took a train ride up to Chicago yesterday. The last time I took the train up, it was quite pleasant. Sure the train ran a little late, but 45 minutes wasn't really any bother. Yesterday's train however, ran much much later than that.

I was supposed to be on my merry way at 11:43 in the AM. We didn't push off from the station until close to 3. Once we got moving, things seemed to be fine. Sure, I was three hours later than I had planned but I spoke to my friend up north and we made arrangements for me to get out to her place by Metra. No big.

About an hour into the ride, we stopped. And stay stopped for what felt like an eternity. The natives began their slow descent into insanity.

There were a handful of hairdressers on board who were headed to a big beauty show at McCormick Place. Having been in the business I knew things were going to get rowdy in a hurry.

Next to them was a group of older women celebrating one of their birthdays. They too partook of the 4 dollar cans of Bud in the dining car.

One of the birthday party girls sounded like Britney Spears on a bender. You know how people sound when they make fun of a southern accent? Multiply that by 100 and you'd come close to how cranked up this woman sounded.

Then there was the woman who freaked out on a dude while the both of them stood right next to my seat. It seems that the man (who later revealed he was 48 years old) had made a suggestive remark to one of the woman's preteen daughters.

"If you even look at my daughter I'll cut you up, motherfucker" is one of the more delightful zingers she screamed at him not two feet from my head.

The dude most definitely deserved it. I just wasn't in the mood to be party to any bloodshed at the moment.

Later that same man was "detained" on the lower level for smoking in between cars (during one of our many standstills of the trip) and getting belligerent with a conductor. He was really drunk, and this did not help his case. Nor did him shouting, "I am not some ni***r! Don't treat me like some ni***r!". EEP.

At some point the birthday girls and the hairdressers started calling the Amtrak 800 number to complain about the delay. Nothing is more entertaining than listening to a bunch of drunk yahoos trying to sound sufficiently angry without slurring on the line with some operator who couldn't possibly care less that there was a bunch of drunkards stuck on the track in bumfuck Illinois.

One passenger lamented that she really needed to smoke. I mentally agreed with the sentiment. Redneck Birthday Girl, ever the patron saint of drunkards, had a mini lecture session.

"You shouldn't smoke! You're so young! It makes you stink! It's so EXPENSIVE!"

And the best line of the entire night:

"Think about how much more you could drink with all that money!"

Once we finally started moving the mood lightened a little.

I decided that since I wouldn't have time to get ready before the show, I would pull a cheap hooker move and put my makeup on in the train bathroom. Sometimes I astound myself with the magnitude of my class. Yeah...

After that I decided to go full force and change my clothes, but was then informed no one was allowed downstairs to the bathrooms because of the aforementioned drunk, loud guy being "detained".

I shared my quandry with the hairdressers and they kindly offered to hold up their coats so I could change right there in a seat. Again with the class.

We finally got to Union Station around 7:15. Only about FIVE hours late.

I was just glad it was over.

After some phone tag and some well deserved smoke breaks, I was on my way to meet up at the show.

I ended up having a fantastic time with some wonderful friends.

I'll probably take the train again. I'm a sucker for punishment and really...what else do I have to blog about?


SkylersDad said...

Every movie I have seen that has a train in it has people crawling along the side to get away, or to, the bad guys.

So how come you didn't do that?

Earth Muffin said...

I think those same exact people were all on the train the last time I took it from Normal down to St. Louis. We had the same 3 hour departure delay and the same eons long stop on the middle of the tracks. It's good that Amtrak hasn't changed the quality of their service.

And, by the way, you will always be the epitome of class!

Grant Miller said...

We've flirted with the idea of taking a sleeper car outwest to the Grand Canyon or something.

But after reading this...

Kate said...

I'm so glad you had a good time and made it home in a timely manner. How was that bacon BTW?

Bubs said...

I used to take the train back east to visit friends in Philadelphia. Spalding Grey referred to the train as a "rolling confessional" and I gotta say I had some great times on Amtrak...but that was 25 years ago. After reading your account, all I could think was thank God at least it wasn't the Greyhound bus.

jewgirl said...

hilar squared, child. was the event as entertaining as the train ride?

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