Via Rail Story #1

We’re going to be using the train a lot over the next five weeks, so I figured that this won’t be the only story to come out of our experiences on it.

We got on the train and settled down for the night. It was a restless, but uneventful sleep. At about 9AM, we woke to a bit of commotion. The train servicemen were walking up and down the corridors looking for something while the train was stopped, and it was making a woman near us agitated. “I’m getting off at Turro, how long is this gonna take?!” she kept repeatedly asking the air, until another woman nearby answered, “You’re lucky! I’m meant to be changing at Turro! I was told that there would be no problem changing at Turro.”. Two negatives don’t make a positive, so these women continued to egg each other on, until the original woman cracked and spoke to a serviceman nearby.

“Excuse me, my son is picking me up at Turro. I would like to know when we’re going to stop looking for this person’s bag and continue on our journey. My son will start to get worried while he’s waiting for me at Turro because that’s where I’m meant to be in 45 minutes!”. It turns out that the service people were looking for some luggage that someone had left behind, but this woman didn’t seem to be in a charitable mood and didn’t care much for the reason. “They tell you to take everything with you as you leave. I don’t see why they can’t just drive to Turro to come and pick it up. Do they really expect a whole train full of people to wait for their mistake?! we should be in Turro by now!”. I hope the word ‘Turro’ is starting to make you flinch, because by this point, we’d gone past the point of annoyance and into silent hysterics. The woman’s woes only got worse as the conversation went on. “Where is the service cart? I would like to have something to eat seeing as I’m here”. The serviceman politely told her that she had the option to wait an hour, or to walk five carts down the train to the canteen. “BUT I’M OLD!” she shrieked! This woman did have a perm and the dowdy skirt you’d expect from a 90 year old, but I’m certain she was no more than 60. When people like to say ‘You’re as old as you feel’, I don’t think they’re referring to this lady. After a small pause, she continued to find things to moan about. “Can’t the train go any faster? Where’s my sandwich already? WHERES MY NAPKIN!?”, with that last question, she was gesturing her hands as if to suggest they would fall off if she didn’t get the opportunity to wipe them. Somehow the serviceman was keeping his cool and you could tell that under his strict professionalism, he was finding her as funny as us. Turro may be the happiest place on the planet to live, but our only impression of it was this pig in a wig.

This woman had done a great job of waking Dan and I up fully, so Dan began to tell me about these children that kept waking him up in the middle of the night. Apparently he’d wake up to find them staring at him and he noticed that they all had the same haircut and same outfit. It was like something out of ‘The Shining’ according to him. I decided to take a trip towards where they were coming from, using the need to stretch my legs as an excuse. It turns out that these children belonged to an Amish gathering, and it must be Dan’s unkempt beard that was fascinating them, because the walking by and staring didn’t stop. You would’ve thought they’d stare at me with my nose piercing, but they never took their eyes off Dan. No one else in the carriage seemed to interest them more, and it seemed like these children were also finding excuses to walk up and down the carriage in order to get a look at him. After a lot of egging Dan on, he decided to say ‘Good morning’ to each of these children to see how they’d react. Some smiled, some ran, some sniggered. We can only speculate as to why Dan was so appealing to these children. I think that they’d decided between them that Dan was the closest looking person to Jesus that they’d ever seen.

As soon as the Amish children quietened down and returned to their seats, the two women rediscovered their zest for unhappiness. Just as we were listening to another round of the words ‘Turro’ and ‘Sandwich’, the Amish community decided to break into song. So behind us, we kept hearing the woman repeatedly say “My son will be waiting in Turro and he will be so worried!” and in front of us we kept hearing incomprehensible wails coming from the Amish family. I can only guess that at one point they were repeating “our lord” over and over. We decided that this surround sound experience would never stop and our chances of sleep were now over. So we got ourselves a cup of tea.

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