Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Trains


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Aug 29, 2023

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Trains

By Kerry Elson Many trains have coach cars, a quiet car, a dining car, and a

By Kerry Elson

Many trains have coach cars, a quiet car, a dining car, and a business-class car. What you may not know is that you can turn any car into a craft car by setting up your glue gun, polymer clay, beads, pipe cleaners, and glitter on the tray table in front of you.

At the start of your trip, a conductor will walk down the aisle, punch or scan your ticket, and maybe linger at your seat for a moment. That's because they’re excited about the sparkly bunny shelter that's coming together so well on your tray table.

Trains can have beautiful names, like the Coast Starlight and the Heartland Flyer. But, when I’m sad on the train, even if it has one of those pretty names, I feel like I’m riding the Cloudy Day Coach, the Grumpity Grump Basement Moisture, or the Taking a Puff of My Albuterol and Having a Seat Limited.

On a train, you can do all kinds of activities. If you don't want to do arts and crafts, maybe crack open a book. Then you can try to connect to Wi-Fi on your laptop, feel mystified because your laptop seems connected but somehow no Web site will load, read another page of your book, try connecting to Wi-Fi again, give up, and then read another page while thinking about the Wi-Fi.

The Wi-Fi on Amtrak trains usually doesn't work because Amtrak wants you to enjoy the moment, look out the window, and focus on sanding the floor of your bunny shelter.

There's a train from New York to Los Angeles—that's a journey of nearly twenty-five hundred miles. Sometimes I have thought about how it would feel to sleep on the train, and take my meals in the café car, at a table with other passengers who also feel uncomfortable in airports. I wonder what kind of food the train would have, and whether I could keep a tub of smooth peanut butter in my sleeping compartment if the train doesn't have what I like, which is peanut butter.

President Biden loves trains. So does my dad. We need to get these guys together sometime for a ride!

The train was invented in England in 1804, and the first train's average speed was ten miles per hour. These days, trains go much faster. In the United States, most trains go at a chug-along speed, but we do have a high-speed train, the Acela, which runs from Washington, D.C., to New York City to Boston. I haven't been on it because I worry that the train's extreme velocity would cause any crafts I was constructing with glue, bric-a-brac, and clay to collapse on the tray table, and then spill onto the floor, making a big mess.

You can buy train tickets in advance. About ten minutes before your train leaves, a screen at the station will show you your departure gate. Scurry over there to stand in line so you can secure a seat that you like. Many people will be waiting at the gate already because they got the secret message.

If you’re running late for a train, that's O.K.—many railway operators allow passengers to run alongside the train in a pinafore, toss their leather suitcase aboard, and then hurl themselves into the last car while the conductor watches with disdain.

Both the window seat and the aisle seat have benefits. Me? I could take a seat in either position. At the window, I have access to the outlet, so I can plug in my glue gun. On the other hand, if I’m on the aisle, it's easier to reach the bathroom, where I can wash glue off my hands and add water to my papier-mâché. Then again, if I bring my water bottle and bowls, I can do those tasks from the window seat. So, if I had to choose, I’d say I prefer the window. What about you? Do you like the window seat better, or the aisle?

You can make great friends while on trains. I will admit, sometimes I don't make friends on them, but that's life. When it's time to get up and say goodbye, I typically give whatever I have crafted to the person sitting next to me as a kind gesture, and because I already have so many of these things at home.

Now I have imparted all of my knowledge about trains. Thank you for reading. Maybe, one day, my dad, President Biden, or I will see you on board. ♦