There are many ways to get to a destination, especially when you are going on vacation. You can drive, fly or my personal favorite, ride the train. Now I don’t mean riding the rails like a hobo, but actually riding the Amtrak to get somewhere. I highly recommend riding Amtrak instead of driving. It is cheaper than gas and you don’t have to drive anywhere. You can just settle in and sleep, read or watch a movie on a portable player. It is very fun and you don’t have to deal with airport security and getting the full body scan/cavity search or pay the baggage fees. You just have to have to the time to get to your destination. To get to Disneyland, for example, the train leaves Flagstaff at 9 pm and pulls into Fullerton, CA (the closest station to DL) at 7 am. So we just sleep all night. Plus, it saves me a 4 hour round trip to Phoenix to catch a flight, the cost of gas, and the cost of parking my car and possibly a hotel room if a flight is early. So for $120 round trip, we can take a coach seat on Amtrak and get to DL fresh and ready to go. Now, BFF and I usually spend the extra (it’s not that much more) and get a sleeping compartment so that we can sleep even better and be ready to meet Mickey. However, when we went to DL in October, our trip was quite the experience.
We were unable to get a sleeper on our way out, despite booking in advance and even asking several times (including that night just in case) so we rode coach out to Cali. We brought our blankets and travel pillows and were dressed in our comfy clothes, ready to crash out next to each other. Overhearing the Amtrak employee tell another passenger that the train was full, I asked before the train got there if BFF and I would be able to sit together and we were assured this would not be a problem. Nothing against anyone else, but neither of us wanted to be stuck sitting next to a hobo just in case. As it happened, this train was gonna have a lot of students on it from NAU as it was fall break and the lobby of the train station started to get very crowded and very smelly. The stench could only be described as that of unwashed butthole or unwashed hobo, take your pick…just who we didn’t want to sit by. Our first adventure was the homeless woman in the train station who proceeded to cuss out the Amtrak employee as he attempted to help her into a cab. Pretty sure the stench of unwashed butthole that had slowly permeated the train station was from her as the smell slowly dissipated. So, we prepared to board coach and get our seat assignments, which they typically give you as you get on. However, this time the train employee said “Go upstairs and good luck”. Huh. That didn’t sound good. And no seat assignment. Just good luck? BFF and I started to get a little nervous as the boarding process seemed to be at a standstill in the small cramped barely big enough for my fat flass to get up staircase. Once upstairs, we discovered along with about 20 of our fellow train riders that there are NO empty seats anywhere in the car. WTF? NONE? Yup. Not one empty seat. So we did what any body would do…we walked into the next car, found 2 seats together and sat down. So did several NAU students. Our joy was short-lived as the gal in charge of that car told us in no uncertain terms that the 4 of us that had sat in there were not allowed to be in there if we were going to Fullerton. What? She told us we had to get up and go back into the other car that had no seats. How does this make sense? And, why are we being discriminated against? Why can’t we have seats in this car? Is it only reserved for those not going to Fullerton? Do we smell like unwashed butthole and therefore can’t ride in this car? It made no sense, but we all got up and walked back into the obviously full car as the train pulled out of the station and we were left standing in the aisle.
Now we are all wondering if we are gonna have to ride the entire way to California standing in the aisle. This was starting to get frustrating and starting to piss me off. We had paid for a seat. And one thing you don’t wanna see is the Fat Girl get mad. Trust me…yelling occurs…just ask the Verizon store employee who I am sure I traumatized. Finally, the gal in charge of that car told us we had to go to the lounge car and ride there. Oh no. I don’t think so. First of all, the lounge car is where they tell you to go once quiet hours have started on the train and the entire car is NOTHING but windows. The seats don’t recline and the lights don’t dim at all. Great. Nothing like trying to hit DL with no sleep as I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep in a tiny chair that is upright. BFF can sleep anywhere but that was not the point. Are you freaking kidding me? I PAID for a seat and there are empty ones…why can’t we get those? The chatter begins as we all file into the lounge car, passing up perfectly good empty seats in the other car that we were denied the right to sit in. I felt like I was part of the Civil Rights Movement for a moment being told I couldn’t have those seats in the front of the train. Everyone around us was pissed off. To spend the whole ride in the lounge car and not by choice was cruel. Plus it smelled slightly of unwashed hobo or hippie in there and I was overhearing some Vietnam Vet tell anyone around him about his sleeping conditions as a POW….pretty sure I wanted out of that Lounge Car before that man’s PTSD kicked in and he started screaming at us to “Hit the Deck ” or thought we were the enemy and took us hostage. And he offered all of us pot to help us sleep and maybe rob us blind in the process….creepy. Yup I wanted out of that car.
I still wondered about those seats that we were forced to evacuate. Why couldn’t we have those? What was wrong with those seats? Are they special seats and the Fat Girl is not good enough to sit in them? There are no assigned seats in coach until you get on board so why can’t we sit in those, recline and be comfy? The 2 guys we had been kicked out of the car with are at this point also wondering the same thing as we prepare to bunk down for the night in the lounge car even thought we PAID for seats. The gal comes back and ask who in the lounge car doesn’t have a seat and is surprised to see about 20 hands shoot up as she explains they over booked the train. How the heck do you over book a train? She leaves obviously flustered and the muttering begins again. Lots of talk of demanding refunds is going on and BFF and I attempt to make ourselves comfy as it looks like we are going to be stuck in the lounge car. My facebook status for that night even read “Amtrak over sold our train so we don’t even get coach seats. Stuck in the lounge car. Let’s hope we can sleep” Then the gal returns to the Lounge Car Land Of No Sleep Because Of A Creepy Pot Pushing Former POW and says some magic words “I have 4 seats I can give you.” Immediately, BFF and I jump up along with the 2 other guys that were exiled with us from the Discrimination Car and she tells us to follow her….RIGHT TO THE EXACT SEATS WE WERE TOLD WE COULDN”T HAVE. Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously….are we being punked? The 4 of us, now comrades in our experience, look at each other incredulously. I say to them “Aren’t these the seats we were told we couldn’t have?” And they nod their heads, laugh and agree….yup same exact seats we were told to get our asses out of not 45 minutes earlier. Now they were being handed to us like they were some sort of prize. BFF and I just laugh along with them and settle in. When the conductor comes by to collect our tickets, I ask him why we couldn’t have these seats to begin with only to be told that they had to make sure there were seats for the passengers getting on at later stops….which made no sense to me. I mean, hadn’t we bought a ticket just like them and had a longer ride than those getting on after us? Whatever. I settled in for my sleep 90 minutes later than it should have been even though we were in the Discrimination Car. It sure beat the Lounge Car Land Of No Sleep Because Of A Creepy Pot Pushing Former POW where the smell of unwashed hobo also lived. Let’s just say I was grateful for a sleeper car our way home.
Oh yeah. I didn’t die today. I did survive a oversold Amtrak train and managed to get some sleep on our last vacation but I didn’t die. I also didn’t take the Former POW up on his offer of pot to help me sleep so he could rob me blind. I am fat girl who doesn’t like the smell of unwashed hobo or of unwashed butthole but likes to ride the Amtrak anyways running. The experiment continues….