Years of practice of shoving to the front of the stage at indie rock shows with her camera have honed Terri’s ability to push to the front of any crowd. She managed to do the same while we were waiting for the 7pm Acela Express to Boston from New York, the last express of the day, and got us some of the last two seats together. We sat down early and watched the other people walk down the aisles and look glumly down the car.
I went into the cafe car just after Stamford CT to get a hot dog and a beer. The cafe car was full of about a dozen Massachusets firefighters in full dress uniforms, well on their way to being plastered. One of them had spilled his beer, and with some drunken incompetence was rubbing some paper towels back and forth about a foot to the right of the spill. They were having a good time and were pretty funny, though. The conductor looked like he was trying to gauge whether or not he should try to ask them to take some seats or stop drinking or just leave them alone. He decided to leave them alone and left the car, but a few minutes later came back and said “hey, boys, the Sox just won 11-3!”. They all cheered and one of them yelled “that means the conductah buys the next round!” They all laughed. The conductor sort of laughed and got out of the car as fast as he could.
After I got my hot dog, I went back to my seat and mentioned it to Terri and said “OH! They must have been in town for the funeral!” Apparently, she had been walking around Manhattan earlier that day and near St. Paul’s walked through a big funeral parade for a firefighter who died in action last week.
Later, behind us, a woman got on her cell phone and said “I’m going to be getting in in about a half hour.” She started to cry. “All I am going to want to do is come over and cry. Is that OK?”. The person on the other end seemed to answer in the affirmative and was greeted with more sobs. “OK, I’ll see you then.”
People gripe about the Acela, its delays, the Northeast’s aging track infrastructure keeping it from fulfilling its promise of lightning-fast rail service down the East Coast. But I’ve taken it 4 times in the last 6 weeks, and it’s been stellar each time. Comfortable, New York to Boston in 3.5 hours, no going through security, no getting a cab from airports to downtowns, power outlets, legroom, and the occasional adventure.