The Grinch Said If I Can’t Find a Reindeer I’ll Take Amtrak Instead

Merry Christmas! Like my neck pillow?
This morning we woke up, opened presents, called family, ate everything in the house, cleaned everything in the house and then left for Pennsylvania. The greatest neighbors in the world volunteered to take us down to the Metra station. We rode the Milwaukee District West line from National Street to Union Station. And then because we were there so early, we had a lot of time to wait on our Amtrak train (which is a lot better than missing it).

I’ve ridden Metra and other regional/city trains all over the country but as far as I know tonight is my first time on Amtrak. I have found myself comparing it to air travel. In comparison so far there has been a lot less security and a lot more homeless people.

The homeless folks aren’t on the train but on this 14 degree for the high day, there were quite a few inside Union Station. We were asked for money plenty. A man in a full body snowsuit spent a good 30 minutes next to us in the waiting area carefully wrapping his feet and stuffing his clothes with toilet paper. His suit was blaze orange and made me think of cold mornings hunting in a Pennsylvania forest. I shuddered to think about him spending all night in this weather. In that respect, this Christmas transit journey has already burst my privileged economic bubble in ways I don’t think a car would have. It’s one thing to know some folks will spend Christmas outdoors. It’s another thing to meet them.

I feel that economic privilege tonight as I rest easy in my large, luxurious Amtrak seat, having spent the money to travel all the way to Pennsylvania tonight.

The boys are asleep in the chairs next to me. They were thrilled to be on the train. They spent twenty minutes playing with their chairs and tray tables (I’m grateful for a mercifully lightly populated  car for this reason). Then we had to make a pilgrimage to the snack car and the bathroom. I love my children. I loved watching their eyes twinkle when they saw how large the train was. I also caught myself thinking how much easier this trip will be when they’re just a little older. But for tonight I’m grateful for sweet snuggles reading books to sleep on this Christmas train.

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