What is it about Amtrak that makes me so anxious? I don’t consider myself an anxiety-ridden person, but there’s something about those trains that get me all riled up.
This is the exact position I found myself in this past Friday evening as I entered Penn Station to board a train to Boston. Everything couldn’t have been more perfect. My bags were neatly packed, I got to leave work early and I even had time to grab a travel snack (traveling = time for junk food).
As I waited for my track number to be displayed on the big electronic board, the anxiety started to come over me. I couldn’t help it, tourists surrounded me and everyone was rushing to different gates blocking my vision. All of a sudden a stampede of people started rushing towards me. The track number had been posted. I finally asked someone in the heard of duffle bags if they had called the train for Boston. He replied, “yes, I’d hurry up if I were you!”. Suddenly panic came over me.
After being squished down an escalator where a man dropped his glasses and nearly killed us all, I finally reached the train platform. I walked down one car to realize I had walked in the food car. I panicked as I saw the hundreds of people behind me in line now rushing past me and taking up valuable window seats! Out of nowhere I possessed some sort of superhero strength and was able to carry my rolly bag over my head and ran head first.
Three cars down and still no seats. Finally I approached a car with tons of available seating. Jackpot, I think. I figured I had just gotten lucky; no one else had thought to walk down this far. I sit down and settle down in a prime window seat and see that the girl in the row opposite from me is throwing up into a trash bag. Jackpot was right; you really know how to pick ’em Linds.
The train begins to move. I decide to not sit and watch this poor girl, but go to the restroom. As I plop myself down, exhausted and sweaty from my excursion, the bathroom door slowly begins to open from the trains movement. I don’t notice until the door is almost halfway open and I have to waddle over to close it. Yes, the entire train car, including that puking girl saw me drawers-down. Fantastic, I think. Well at least now the puking girl isn’t the most embarrassed person on the train.
I head back to my seat hoping that the sunglasses I’m wearing shield my shame. Not the case at all. The second I get to my seat the man collecting tickets informs me that I am in business class and have not paid for a business class ticket. As if I was not embarrassed enough, this man has to explain in a megaphone volumed voice that I must move immediately. I look up at him secretly hoping that he’ll sell me the seat at a discounted price for the show I gave everyone 5 minutes before. He’s not buying it. Now not only am I the pantless girl, but now I’m the pantless girl who can’t follow directions.
I re-pack my things and head back 7- count it-7 cars! Every time I saw an empty seat, I’d ask nicely, “Is someone sitting there?” Before I could even finish the sentence they would say, “Yep, taken”. I started to fear that word of my bathroom story had spread to the back of the train. Why else would no one want to sit with me? I’m a very sweet girl in an adorable pink t-shirt with snacks!
At this point, my anxiety turned into anger. I paid over one hundred dollars for this one-way train ride and I was not going to spend it sitting on the floor! I finally enter the caboose of the train and see that the very last row is empty with two free seats. I plopped myself down, threw my bag on the free seat next to me and looked up at a young Amtrack employee. He gave me a look basically implying that I wasn’t allowed to occupy two seats, but by the look on my face, he decided to keep his mouth shut.