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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Autotrain Story Part I

     Unable to see out the rear window because the SUV was piled with golf clubs, file crates, boxes,
and suitcases, Marge and Steve crawled for four hours from their Florida residence to the Amtrak depot in Sanford, Florida. They arrived just before the check-in deadline.
     "Pull your vehicle all the way forward," the loudspeaker said.  Each line of cars moved forward at an impressive pace.
     Marge and Steve had Hollywood visions of the trip from "The Orient Express" movie:  a private compartment with 100-thread/square-inch bed linens, a white-gloved porter, a dining car laden with silver and crystal.
     An attendant moved next to Steve's door.  "Please take all personal belongings you'll need overnight," he said to them.  "The car will be locked and inaccessible.  May I have your paperwork, please?"
     Steve got out and handed over the documents and keys.  He reached into the back seat for his blue blazer and shrugged it on over his striped button-down.  Marge got their Louis Vitton overnight bag with her matching tote out of the trunk.
     "Please proceed to the waiting room and check in at the counter," the attendant said.
     Inside was a room that held the former occupants of four hundred cars.  All waited to board the three-quarter-mile train.
     Steve handed the Amtrak clerk his ID and paperwork.  "Welcome, Mr. Thomas!  I see you have a private sleeping compartment.   I'm afraid the 7:00 dinner seating is filled, so would you prefer the 5 p.m. or 9 p.m. seating?"
     "The early one, please," Marge said.
      "You'll hear an announcement in just a few minutes to proceed to the numbered car that's marked on this boarding pass.  Yours is #89.  There will be a porter outside the car to take your suitcase and lead you to the proper compartment."
     "OK.  Is there a bar car?" Steve said.
     "Oh, yes.  The porter will show you, if you ask.  Have a pleasant journey."
     "Thanks so much."
     Steve took off his blue blazer and slung it over his shoulder.  There were too many people in one room to lower the temperature to his liking.  Behind him he pulled their suitcase, while Marge carried matching tote and purse.
     They dodged dogs on reprieve from their cages, coolers spilling bottles of water and soda, college knapsacks, and military duffel bags, but were unable to find two seats.  A cat perched in a woman's lap.  Because of the enormity of the woman's stomach, the cat actually perched on her knees.  The husband's tee revealed his midriff and tattoos rippled across his biceps.  Bulging beneath one sleeve was a square box.
     "Better smoke one of them things now.  It'll be your last chance outside for a while," the woman said, as Steve and Marge maneuvered around the cat's carrying case, heading for two remaining seats outside the toilets.
     "Quite an assortment of people," Marge said to the back of Steve's head.
     Within minutes they heard the announcement to proceed to numbered cars.  As promised, a porter met them outside car #89. No white gloves, but he led them up the steps of the train and up again an interior spiral stair, holding their overnight bag so there'd be no scuffs.  Marge and Steve followed down a long, skinny corridor to compartment #216. 
     "Well, there'll be plenty of beer and wine at dinner, no limits," the porter said, placing their suitcase inside.  "I'll make the bunks up while you're eating, if that's OK.  You have the early seating?  The late one usually gets rowdy.  If there's anything else you need, just let me know.  Towels and kleenex are right here, and an overnight kit, too," he said, pointing beneath the sink.  "Glasses are up top.  The bathroom light goes on automatically, once you lock that door."
     The train pulled out right on schedule.  After they'd put everything away and took a glance out the windows, Marge and Steve heard the announcement for the 5:00 seating.
     "I guess we won't have time for a drink in the bar," Steve said.  They moved along the thin corridor in the opposite direction from where they'd climbed up, bumping against the long windows and  sides of compartments.  Between cars Steve hit the big red button to slide the steel doors open, trying to maintain his balance as the train weaved and jerked.
     Five cars later, they found the dining room.  Glasses from a restaurant supply store sat on linen tablecloths.  Stainless steel forks, knives, spoons edged the plates that would go directly into a commercial dishwasher.  No fine china in sight.


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