286 The Elderly of Amtrak

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Last Friday I boarded an Amtrak train from NYC to Pittsburgh, and I chose to pay extra to sit in Business Class. I sat near the end of the car in the last row and set up my work station. It was all going great, until we arrived in Philly.

At this point an elderly man and woman in their 80’s got on, wearing matching sweaters and speaking with English dialects. I have taken the train a few times, and I am pretty sure I have seen them before; matching sweaters and all. The conductor asked them to sit in the handicapped seating across from me, as the gentleman had a walker.

After they settled in, the woman kept staring at me. I just ignored it, as I didn’t know why she was doing it. Then, when the conductor walked over to take their tickets, she said loudly, “We take this train all the time, and we normally sit where she is sitting”, as she pointed at me. I guess this was her verbal request for me to move to accommodate her wishes, but I ignored it as my seats were not handicapped accessible and no better than hers.

The conductor said, “I am sorry mam, but there is no assigned seating on the train. You can move somewhere else if you want to move.” So the woman proceeded to say that she wanted to take the seats of the man in front of me. He wasn’t having any of it either, so she and her husband moved to the middle of the car.

The woman then proceeded to walk up and down the car the entire trip telling people about the history of Amtrak, and the Pennsylvania rails we were traveling on.  She wasn’t wrong, it is historic, but she was bothering people who were trying to work. It was business class after all.

When we arrived at the famous Horseshoe Curve, I moved to the other side of the car and snapped some pictures. About 20 minutes later, she had 10 people get out of their seats and they were leaning over seated passengers to look out of the left side of the train. “This is one of the most historic pieces of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the famous Horseshoe Curve. Can you see how it curves around to the other mountain?”, she said.

I laughed wondering how long it would take everyone to realize we were traveling in a straight trajectory, and had already traveled the curved part of the track. It took about 3 minutes, and she announced, “Oh my, this isn’t the Horseshoe Curve! We must have passed it”. Yeah, we passed it about 20 minutes ago lady! All of the interested passengers walked quietly back to their seats and she sat down and she was quiet for the rest of the trip.

I am considerate of people’s needs, and accommodate when necessary, but I have finally decided that I won’t accommodate strangers just because they want what I have. Whether it be my place in line at the grocery store, my window seat on a plane, or that last piece of pie on the buffet, it’s mine… Fair and square!

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