Thoughtless Travelers Abound.
On the way home from my recent trip to France and the U.K., I took Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago, where I spent the night. The next afternoon I boarded the California Zephyr for that wonderful ride to the West Coast.
I was looking forward to seeing the Cubs play the Cardinals at Wrigley Field that afternoon, but it was not to be. By the time the Lake Shore arrived and I was settled in my hotel room, the game had started and I decided on a nice late lunch and a nap instead . . . and if that isn’t a sure sign of onrushing dotage, I don’t know what is.
Perhaps another sign is finding myself feeling cranky at the behavior of other people when I travel: a busload of American tourists taking over a charming restaurant or a small gift shop or a museum now sets my teeth on edge. My fellow countrymen, in fact, are one of the main reasons I opt to stay in small villages when I travel to Europe: they aren’t there! The sorry truth is that, by and large, many Americans are inconsiderate travelers, and that holds true for travel in our own country, too.
Case in point: here’s a photo I took in Amtrak’s brand new Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago’s Union Station. Frankly, I was shocked when I walked in and saw this guy stretched out on one of the brand new sofas. At least his wife was sleeping sitting up!
I suppose it would be too much to ask—all things considered—for one of the Amtrak employees tending the lounge to jostle this bozo and, when he opens his eyes, ask him to please sit up and remove his shoes.
Me? I’m afraid I’d be tempted to say, “What the hell is the matter with you, Mac? Brought up in a barn? Sit up and take yer damn shoes off the furniture!”
The lounge itself is on two levels with the entrance just off the Great Hall. It’s twice the size of the old place, although it just doesn’t seem as homey. It will, however, accommodate three times the number of people . . . unless, of course, there’s a bunch of inconsiderate slobs lying down and hogging all the sofas.