© 2009 Karen Van Fossan
Finally, I counted. I had to. Twenty-seven here. Eighteen there.
This summer, I spent nearly 100 hours on the train. I'm not bragging, not complaining. But, as much as I long to tell you about the places where I went, rather than how I got there, all I can hear in my head is that cross-country train.
Years ago, I used to get a couple of seats to myself. When gas prices hovered at $1 or so a gallon, when airlines kept their financial woes to themselves, when "green" was a word no self-respecting CEO would say -- the train was my little secret.
But now, I've entered R.E.M. sleep with so many random strangers, I've lost count.
This summer, as I traveled the country, I contemplated the meaning of life, and language, and the train. I realized that the passenger train is almost entirely lacking in cliches.
We've got the high road, the fast lane, who's in the driver's seat; we talk about "paving the way."
But how about Amtrak cliches?
Here's my first try...
1) When the trip is just beginning, and your heart is full of adventure --
Train sweet train.
2) When you find yourself leg-to-leg with a dude who has Restless Leg Syndrome --
Fuel efficiency loves company.
3) When you miss your bathtub so much, you wish you'd brought a picture --
Cleanliness is next to impossible.
4) When you start to wonder how many times the family across the aisle can watch that same, freaking, boring DVD --
Good boundaries make good neighbors.
5) When you're startled awake by a chorus of frogs...or bears...or who-knows-what? --
If you can't stand the snoring, get out of the train.
6) When the nighttime lights keep streaking by --
All that glitters is not easily blocked by your eyelids.
7) When you can't help but question the Self and notions of private property --
Home is where that little-tag-placed-above-your-seat is.
8) When your seatmate wakes up chatty --
Bloom where you and your random seatmate are planted.
9) When a person has to be neighborly, even on the train --
'Tis more blessed to give up your window seat to a married Amish couple, than to receive.
10) When the engineer cranks the emergency brakes --
You can lead a train to the mountains, but you can't make it climb (unless a couple of freight engines come to haul it).
So, the next time you're on the train, save me a seat. Because...
A friend in the train is worth two in the bush.
Words to live by.