It is hour ten of our twelve-hour sojourn in this, the Metropolitan Lounge of the Amtrak section of Chicago’s Union Station. We have begun gnawing off each other’s legs for amusement. (I have begun thinking about gnawing off my own leg for my own amusement; the rest is mere hyperbole, which was meant to amuse me and failed.)
Earlier in this interminable layover a woman began to set up a strange display. No one was entirely sure what was going on, so I sent my mother to investigate, as mostly what I have actually been doing to keep from trying to gnaw off my own leg is read a book, and the signs were probably not more interesting than that.
She found out that it was a display for Pullman cars. Did you know they still exist? They do. To get a ticket to ride in one, you need to have (and apparently this phrase is key) “900—no, 1000—no, 999 dollars” per person. A family of four, then, would pay $3,996 to get to ride in this very special fancy private car, which this day will be going from Chicago to New Orleans.
Essentially, you are paying four thousand dollars to go to New Orleans. Which, why? I love New Orleans, and I will still tell you that if you pay me four thousand dollars I will provide you with a reasonably large amount of alcohol and then hit you in the head with a half-brick in a sock, which is more or less equivalent; and I will even travel to your own home and provide you with this experience there, ensuring that when you wake up you will be throwing up into your own toilet without having to worry about the STDs of strangers.
I will tell you this because I want your money. You could, of course, give me it and then go to New Orleans anyway. This is probably the best plan. You will know what it feels like to wander around Bourbon Street without feeling pressure to be gross-tourist drunk, which will let you pay more attention to the architecture and history of that great city.
(New Orleans is great!)
(New Orleans should also give me some money, because of advertising. If they do I promise not to hit anyone with a half-brick in a sock ever again. Well, ever. Well, those records are sealed. Ahaha.)
That four thousand dollars (more or less) is just to get you there, is what I am getting at. It costs even more to rent a hotel and—what do people who want to be paid for their contributions to advertising call it? To experience the full range of delights that the city has to offer. For most people this is dead-rich-uncle money, is what I am saying. I’m just really tempted to follow them around in case they drop spare change. Like a down payment on a giant apartment in downtown Chicago by Millenium Park. (I would also accept advertising money from the great city of Chicago, if anyone is interested.)
HOW DO YOU LIVE, STRANGERS? DO YOU DRY YOUR HANDS DIFFERENTLY FROM ME? DO YOU USE DOLLAR BILLS BECAUSE CLEARLY YOU DON’T NEED MONEY LIKE THE REST OF US.
Finally, because Amtrak probably also needs someone to advertise for them: ride trains! It is really great! Unless you have to be somewhere right away, in which case just take a plane like a normal person. If you are not in a hurry, I strongly recommend abnormality and trains. Trains trains trains. Stop typing, Ned, you’re just going to stress yourself out more.
Edited to add: THIS POST TOTALLY PUBLISHED FROM A MOVING TRAIN, POSSIBLY MOST AWESOME/DORKIEST THING I’VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE, AHAHAHA I LOVE EVERYTHING
…edited to further add: shut up, I don’t have a smartphone, this is all new to me.