Friday, January 25, 2013

Train Ripples

    Sitting on the train waiting for another train to come.  The siding is crooked and the train is leaning.  I’m in the Pacific Parlor car on the Coast Starlight and there’s an elegant fake candle on the table.  When I sat down the candle took off, sliding towards the lower end, the aisle.  I used my baseball snag to catch it and sat it on the folded tablecloth, next to the salt and pepper and the real flowers.  Nice ambience.

     We started out on time when I got on the train this morning.   We made it to the Central Coast pretty much on time.  Then a malfunctioning signal made us adhere to safety rules of no more than 30 miles per hour.  We limped into Salinas. My anticipation of actually getting into Portland on time is waning.  I’ll have to reassess in the morning.
      I’ve been passing the time by reading mostly.  Crime and Punishment.  I wanted to read Anna Karenina on the train since train stations were so involved in that story but when I was reading Anna Karenina in February  a huge landslide grounded the train and I needed to fly to my destination.  I do not particularly like to fly, but, I did.  It wasn’t so bad and I’m thinking about doing it again next February.  I finished Anna Karenina when I got home. I did not read it while I was flying.  I was too busy staring at the wings of the plane, willing them to stay attached.
     The landslide and my need to get to Washington coincided to create a ripple effect.  If I never had to fly, I would not have.  But, I am now looking at that as a viable alternative to go to Washington. It’s only a two hour trip, and that’s about one hour and fifty minutes longer than I’d like to be on a plane.
  Besides a train staying on the ground and carrying me to my destination, it is a place I meet interesting people.  At lunch today I met a couple who’d come from Texas and are on their way to Spokane, Washington. They’d driven from Austin to Albuquerque then got on the Southwest Chief.  They arrived in the morning and then got on the Coast Starlight. They’ll get off this train tomorrow and get on the Empire Builder to go to Spokane.  At dinner I met another couple who were on their way to Seattle to attend a convention for a ‘product’.  It’s an energy kind of drink.  I listened to the add pitch that they thought they were veiling but was very definitely an add pitch.  Not only did it make them feel younger, it made them look younger.  I heard about a man who was in some sort of inversely correlated aging process wherein his age grew while his look got younger.  I figure in a few years, at the rate they were telling it, he’ll be looking like a ten year old.  After they stopped talking, when the silence hung over us like the smoke from the California fires, I said, “I’m skeptical.” To which he replied, “oh I’ll give you some to try.”  I told him I wouldn’t try it. I used the no offense, I’m glad it works for you aproach and still felt like I was calling them charlatans.  I’m hoping my veil was a bit less transparent.  They reminded me of born again religious zealots, but with the aging process.  I told them I was proud of every wrinkle and every grey hair, I worked for them!
    I don’t know what kind of ripple effect the people I meet on the train will have on me nor what ripple effect I’ll have on the people I meet on the train.  I do know that tomorrow I’ll meet a few more people and listen to their stories and give them a hint about mine.  This definitely doesn’t happen on airplanes.  On airplanes we’re all too busy holding on.

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