Sooner or Later, Most People Get It.
I had a medical appointment a week or so ago and in the course of the chit-chat, the doctor mentioned that he and his wife were going on vacation … that they would be spending Thanksgiving with some of her relatives near Milwaukee. So of course I said why didn’t they take the train.
That froze him. “The train?”
Sure, I said, they could fly to Seattle and take the Empire Builder (above) from there to Milwaukee. I started describing the beautiful scenery—the Cascade Range, the Rockies, the Big Sky Country of Montana . . .
“But how long would that take?” he asked.
“Two nights,” I said.
“Two nights?” He had the look of a man being addressed in Swahili.
“You leave Seattle in the late afternoon, you’re on the train all the next day, and you get to Milwaukee in mid-afternoon on the second day.”
“But,” he said—and I knew exactly what was coming—“We can fly there in twelve hours.”
That’s always the first reaction. People think only in terms of how much time it will take to cover any given distance. Why take two-and-a-half days if you can get their in a few hours?
Then I tell them to think of the train ride as part of their vacation experience. That’s when you can see their expression change. That’s when they start to get it.
“It’s an extra two-days of vacation,” I said. “All that glorious scenery. No stress, no security lines, no hotel bills . . . and all your meals are free.”
Now I’ve got the doc’s attention. He vaguely understands that they’ll be on the train instead of staying in a hotel, but the fact that dining car meals for both of them are included in the cost of their sleeping car accommodation … well, that really got his attention.
He said he’d think about it … talk it over with his wife, and let me know.
Based on prior experience with other potential rail travelers, I’d say the odds are about one in four or five that they’ll actually end up on the train. That’s OK … the next time we talk, I tell him about the ride up to Seattle in the parlor car on the Coast Starlight. That’s only one night.