The Sunset Limited, Amtrak’s Train #2, departed Los Angeles about 10 minutes late (At 10:10 P.M.) in a driving rain. Everything had gotten off to a very promising start when T.J., the car attendant who checked my ticket on the platform at the door of my sleeper, said “You’re in number 3, Mr. Loomis. Follow me, please.” And he picked up my small-but-heavy suitcase and carried it up that narrow awkward stairway to my roomette.
I can tell you that I would have had to make two trips up those steps–one for the bigger bag, another for my shoulder bag–and it would have taxed me. I will also report that as we were starting our back-up maneuver into the New Orleans station last night, T.J. appeared in the door of my little room and, without a word, picked up my suitcase and carried it back down those damnable stairs.
He never said much during our journey, but everything needing doing was done: the lavatories were always clean, my room was restored to the daytime configuration when I returned from breakfast. He went about his business quietly and efficiently and without being intrusive in any way.
Furthermore, the dining car crew was also really excellent. Th LSA was Heather, a cheerful woman well into her 60s, who has been working for Amtrak for more than 17 years and clearly enjoys her work. As I normally do, I asked if her crew pools their tips. “We do,” she said, “that’s so we can include the chef.”
I do feel compelled to report that there was one Mexican item on the menu for each of the three meals–breakfast, lunch and dinner– and they were just awful. All three of them.
We arrived in New Orleans something like two hours late, but it was a very nice trip, with the truly excellent crew getting most of the credit. That said, I should report that the P.A. system in my car really didn’t work and you had to be standing in the corridor in order to make out what was being said. These days, that doesn’t even count.
Tonight? Dinner at Irene’s Cuisine–probably the best restaurant I have ever experienced–followed by an hour of traditional New Orleans jazz at Preservation Hall. What’s not to like about that!