Monday, December 20, 2010

North to Savannah on the Silver Service

I just met a very intriguing specimen of the human race, let me tell you.

It seems that the positive attributes of the Lounge Car have increased its fame past its capacity, because when I made my way there it was already so full that there was no empty table available for me to set up my avocado* sandwich buffet lunch. I saw an old man working on a laptop at one table and asked to join him. I think I had been seated for less than ten seconds before he launched into the most intricate monologue I have ever seen performed while in motion.

He started with relatively common conspiracy theories examining connections between the Bush family and the house of Saud, Al Jazeera and Osama bin Laden, and how young people today have no comprehension of why we are so lucky to be in a free society, but then delved into a whole new world of narrative. He explained how with the help of two friends he was able to use water to fuel a combustion engine, thereby proving the efficacy of the world's perfect fuel, and various other undertakings and accomplishments of his life, but then the story took a darker turn, as he explained that his wife, a Colombian citizen, has been refused re-entry to the U.S. for the past two years.

He has attempted with various means to procure for her the proper papers and legal status, often using a negotiation tactic called the "Southern boy's promise." This is not a threat, because a threat may or may not be followed through. This is a solemn vow that will be carried out no matter the circumstance, which usually is quite dire. In this vein, he is currently en route to Washington to announce that his wife is being held hostage by American bureaucrats in Colombia in hopes that this will convince the consulate to grant her citizenship. As if this endeavor was not enough to keep him busy, he is also selling tankless water heaters around the country in an attempt to reduce America's reliance on oil and increase our energy efficiency. A very busy man indeed.

About me, he said various things as well. I will reach far-flung places and it would be good for me to find a partner who will want to share my adventures with me, and who hopefully has money to give me the latitude to fulfill my potential. Other people living in a place that he called "Mundanesville" will live vicariously through me and my observations, which will make me very successful. I liked that very much.

Finally, after hours of discussing these issues and giving each other ideas for success in our relative pursuits, I excused myself to go back to my seat** and write down everything I possibly could, as though it were a dream that would be lost forever if I did not record it soon enough.

The ten hour ride to Savannah took us across plains, along coastlines, and through surprisingly dense jungle at one point. Later in the ride, my seat mate tried to convert me to her sect of Christianity, which follows the teachings of a modern prophet called Brother Banham. It was a hard sell, but I am really starting to come around and see the light, I think. We arrived at the station*** in Savannah right on time, and I was ready for my 24-hour whirlwind tour of the southern city deemed too beautiful to destroy during the Civil War.


*The avocado having been generously donated to me by a couch surfing host.
**My seat mate being an endearing Jamaican grandmother who patiently listened while I regaled her with my detailed recounting of all of my own grandmother's traditional holiday recipes. It is apparently already that time of year when every woman over the age of 60 becomes my dear Grandma Claire and I have to remind myself not to burst into tears and hug them.
***The train has serviced Savannah since the 1830s, however the historic, centrally located original passenger terminal was demolished in 1963 to make room for a highway onramp of all things, and a depressing shack was built on the outskirts of town, completely unreachable by public transit, making a taxi one's only connection to the actual city. America, why do you mutilate yourself this way?


  1. What a small world it is! I've met the same man myself, several times, in different places and circumstances. The most remarkable thing is that the man changes his appearance so dramatically each time. But yes, I'm quite sure it's the same man. Or perhaps it's a set of twin brothers.

    The stories are different each time I meet the man, though. Sometimes the conspiracy involves Nazis (living and dead), sometimes it's "the people running the stock market," or the black helicopters, or the environmentalists.

    And the terribly clever inventions are also different each time (the man is clearly very busy inventing things between visits with me). Sometimes it's a gizmo to increase my gasoline mileage by 23%, sometimes it's a new wind turbine blade that is nonlethal to birds and bats, or sometimes it's something completely useless and unbelievable.

    Next time you see the man, do greet him for me. Of course, I'll see him again soon myself.

  2. You do have a point, it seems there are many folks who are all drinking the same water and probably wear the same aluminum hats to bed. But, that is what makes the train so amusing!