most likely i couldn't write something like 'trains are the essence of perversion' and get anything out of it but perhaps i could write something else equally idiosyncratic but less alarming. what do you think?
there is something to meeting people on the train. something to it that even though i am about the most introverted person you will ever meet i enjoy taking my meals with three random strangers in the dining car on the train. the thing about people on the train is that they are irregular and interesting. if they were regular and normal they would be on an airplane but they are on a train and by this you know there is something out of the ordinary about them.
there are all sorts of types to meet on the train. one type is the retiree or rather the retiree couple who in another incarnation might be driving a winnebago or who indeed on their very next trip might drive one but for now they are letting someone else drive while they count the stations large small and tiny to their destination.
i like sitting with this sort of passenger not only because they often mistake me for someone much younger than i am but because they usually have seen nearly everything and thus don't find me to be too much to swallow. usually they have done much in their lives and have things to say about what they have done and have been many places and have things to say about the places they have been.
one thing that happens when you meet people on trains is that you get to hear about everywhere else a person has been on a train and for train people this is very exciting and a sort of bonding. i have acted as the revered elder simply by virtue of the spring break trip i once took where i rode three trains in a big triangle around the west. between this one trip and a couple other shorter ones i have been on virtually every passenger train this side of the rockies and a few on the other side so i have much to say about where they go and what one sees on them.
this gains you a certain amount of respect among train people. there are people who love the train and people who are just coming to love the train and then there are those who really don't like the train at all but rarely do i meet that kind of person. for the most part everyone is happy to have discovered this mode of travel so late in the history of the US.
by far the most eccentric people i meet on the train are young like me and i sometimes wonder if i am one of the eccentric young ones like them to them. we tend to travel alone and we usually bravely make our way to the dining car at mealtime at which time we will be seated with god knows whom. generally this works out well but you can imagine the social courage it takes to do such a thing to begin with but like i said there is something about meeting people on the train that outweighs the difficulty of meeting people in general.
for one thing almost no one is in a hurry. i can't remember where i heard this or who was talking but on one train somewhere recently someone remarked that a train they had been on one time was filled with airline passengers who for some reason had been prevented from travelling by air and this train passenger smiled and shook his/her head at how impatient and ill-suited for train travel the airline passengers had been and we all smiled in recognition of a certain ability to withstand hours of not getting there quite yet but going and going and therin lies the charm.
you won't meet too many impatient sorts on the train and those you do won't be back so you can be sure of never running into them again.
would amtrak buy this? would anyone?