Hello! I am typing this on an Amtrak train en-route to my home town in PA. Ever on the forefront of modern technology, this is the first time I’ve every successfully connected to the internet on public transportation (there were a few failed Bolt Bus experiences) and I’m pretty flipping excited. This should be the happiest moment of my young life, unfortunately everyone else on this train is THE WORST. I am currently seated next to a middle-aged man who is snorting. Not snoring just...snorting. Every few breaths he kind of, well snorts. There’s no pattern to it either. He’ll just be breathing normally, inhaling and exhaling and then just when I’m least expecting it: snort.
Across the aisle is the rest of his family. His wife, their teen-aged son, and their toddler granddaughter (she is not the daughter of the teenager, but some other person who must have needed a night off.) Smart move, mama, this kid is the pits!
Listen, like my idol and voice-twin Whitney Houston, I believe that children are the future. I also believe that some of them maybe need to just be cool. Girlfriend is on my last nerve. She spent the last 15 minutes standing on her grandma’s lap, reaching up to touch the overhead lights. Each time the touches the light she says “ouch!” and starts to cry. Her grandmother laughs at her, which cheers her up, so she repeats. Is this child torture? Probably. Should I be more worried about her little fingers than my own increasing headache? Probably! I do not care. If this little girl does not quiet down I will end her. And her grandma too.
Spicing up the jumbalaya of awful that is this family, the man behind me has been on his cell phone since we departed the station having a very heated conversation about, honestly, god knows what. I’ve only made out a few snippets including “forget about Janie!” and “Karmic trouble is coming atcha.” Yikes to whoever is on the receiving end of that telephone call.
I have never had good luck on public transport, which is unfortunate for me, as I constantly rely on it to get me from point A to B. In my many travels, I have sat with the worst of them. A man eating noodles with his hands. A girl who kept falling asleep on my shoulder, her long, mangy hair rubbing all over my arm. A girl who yelled loudly into her phone, in explicit detail, about the loud and raucous sexual congress she’d overhead her roommate having that morning. “He fucked her in the ass!” she yelled, pausing to apologize to the rest of the passengers for cursing, before resuming her tale. “She wust have been getting it good and you know he has a big dick, I saw it that one time! Whoops, sorry everyone. I didn’t mean to say ‘dick.’”
Then, of course, there was the instance coming home from my family holiday party last winter. As always, I put myself in some insane situation involving four trains to get me from Philly to NYC just to save myself $12. I had made it to the final leg, New Jersey Transit, and was on one of those fancy double decker trains. I sitting on the top, blissfully reading my Real Simple when a woman on the car below started screaming bloody hell. “I didn’t hit you! I didn’t hit you! I didn’t hit you!” We heard her running in the aisle below us - coming out into the little entrance areas on either side. “You can’t stop me. I didn’t hit you. You can’t catch me!” She screamed and screamed and screamed until, eventually, train security had to detain her by trapping her in one of the stairwells. It turns out she was a paranoid schizophrenic, or at least that’s what she told the 911 operator when she called the cops to report she was being held hostage on a NJ Transit train. We idled in the Elizabeth, NJ station for 15 minutes waiting for the po-po to haul her off. I ‘m not trying to make light of this, mental illness is so not a joke but would this happen to any other traveller but me? And how perfectly fitting that this bananas incident went down in a town called Elizabeth.
Ah! Time to wrap this up. I’m one station away from my destination and I’m really excited to post LIVE FROM THE ROAD. Tracks. LIVE FROM THE TRACKS.
In case you’re wondering what’s up with my cool neighbors, the girl beside me repeatedly openened and closed her g-ma’s little tray table about 87 times in a row, then swallowed her gum and started crying. Did gma take her away to calm her down. NO. She took out her iPhone to get a photo of the baby crying. I can’t decide if I should call Child Protective Services or just murder the whole lot of ‘em. Oh, the old man, he’s still crying.
As for the man behind me, he leaves us with this nugget: H”You want $2 grand. I can get $2 grand . But if you see Andrew, you tell him he ain’t shit. “
Soooo, if any of you see Andrew, could you please pass on that message?