Want to Hear Some Crazy Stories? Talk to Any Amtrak Car Attendant.
Whenever I travel by train, I make a point of chatting with the Amtrak car attendants, most of whom are out-going and gregarious … which figures, doesn’t it?
On my recent trip aboard the Empire Builder, I happened to catch one of the sleeping car attendants during a little down time on a long stretch across Montana. I asked him to tell me about one of the more unusual experiences he’s had in his time with Amtrak. He grinned.
“A year or so ago, I had a couple in one of the big bedrooms. He was elderly, 80 at least, and she was in her mid-40s. We were about five hours or so out of Chicago when she came to find me and said that the old man had passed away.”
The car attendant said he notified the conductor who asked the engineer to radio ahead to have paramedics meet the train at the next station stop, which happened to be La Crosse, Wisconsin. Through it all, he noted that the woman did not appear to be particularly upset.
When the Builder reached La Crosse and the man’s body was being removed, he asked the woman if she would like some help with her luggage, assuming she, too, would be leaving the train.
“Oh, no, I’m the mistress and I’m going on to Seattle” she said, handing the car attendant a slip of paper. “But here’s the name and phone number of his wife back in Chicago.”
I asked who made that difficult call. “I don’t know,” he said. “The station agent at La Crosse, I suppose.”
He paused for a minute, then laughed. “I was a career Marine,” he said, “and I traveled all over the world. But I never saw anything like what I’ve seen since I started working for Amtrak!”
So the next time you’re on a long-distance train, ask your car attendant about his or her weirdest experiences. I promise: you will be amazed!