I don’t often travel on Amtrak, but long train tides are my favorite mode of travel. On visits to Boston and, most recently, New Haven, I have enjoyed rolling past America’s forgotten towns and waterways in the company of more than a few stout Members Of The Workplace in crisp office attire, toting leather briefcases. (My favorite New York Times article, “Empire of the In-Between”, details such a ride http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/magazine/amtrak-industrial-corridor.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)
This particular train ride to New Haven was nearly full, more occupied than I expected early in the morning. Instead of being in school, I was on my way to New Haven with my dad, toting a sleeping bag and a full backpack for a few days of a Yale visit. The seats were bright red instead of the soothing cracking blue I was used to. The one we found empty was a two-seater across from a discontent and scary-looking large man. All three of us strictly avoided eye-contact with each other. The entire ride made me feel grim, like a pit was slowly sinking into my stomach. It was likely a combination of the impersonal sterility of the atmosphere with the stress of making an impending decision on where to spend the next four years of my life at college. I was relieved when he departed, and I could finally take out a new sheet of paper in my sketchbook and draw.
This man was another denizen of the world of Amtrak, asleep when I found him. I could only draw for a few minutes before he snapped back to life within a bluetooth reception zone. I rechecked my sleeping bag’s position, shifted towards the window, and took out schoolwork instead. So it went.