NOTE PLEASE: LINKS TO ADS SEEM TO BE APPEARING IN THE TEXT BELOW FOR REASONS UNKNOWN AND FOR WHICH I AM SEEKING HELP. IN THE MEANTIME, MY APOLOGIES A CURSE UPON THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR SUCH AN OUTRAGEOUS INTRUSION!
The best part about travel is meeting interesting people. In fact, narrowing it down even more, the best part of train travel is meeting people over a meal in an Amtrak dining car. It’s amazing how often you find something in common with a person who was a total stranger just a few minutes earlier.
A friend of mine in Honolulu–a writer/reporter of national stature for many years–once remarked that tired and everyone has at least one interesting story to tell. The fun and the challenge, he said, is in finding it.
I like to chat with people during my travels. People are interesting. Most are outgoing and friendly even though life is not easy.
So far on this trip, I’ve met taxi drivers who have come to this country from Ethiopia, West Africa, Jamaica, and Bosnia. The woman of retirement age who cleaned and tidied up my hotel room in Miami was originally from Cuba. The cab diver who took me to the Brightline train yesterday morning was from Haiti.
Last night, I had an interesting conversation with a waiter who came here a dozen years ago from El Salvador. It was late and I was tired and hungry, but the restaurant was closing when I appeared. Without a second thought, he prevailed upon the chef to make a club sandwich for me.
The truth is, I couldn’t do the work these people are doing. Not even as a young man. Long hours and lousy pay; the work unfulfilling and often physically demanding. But every one of them was happy to stop for a minute or two and talk to me about where they came from and what brought them the this country. And how glad they are to be here.
Why in the world would we want to turn away people like that?