Selling a Cross Country Train Trip.
I’ve engaged in versions of this conversation dozens of times over the past 20-some years. This time it began when the restaurant manager, Alex, mentioned that he would be away for a couple of weeks visiting family in Atlanta.
I remarked that, although very briefly, I would be passing through Atlanta next month on my way to the RPA Fall meeting in Miami.
Alex said he dreaded the flight. “It’s a five-hour redeye to L.A., three hours on the ground there, and then another four hours to Atlanta.”
I told him I was going to fly to Los Angeles, spend the night there, then take Amtrak all the way across the country to Miami.
Alex appeared startled and I knew what he would say next. “How long will that take?”
“A total of four nights on the train,” I said.
Alex stared at me. “Four nights,” he muttered.
“Yes, it’s two nights from L.A to New Orleans, overnight from New Orleans to Washington, DC, and then one night from Washington south to Miami.
Alex actually showed some interest in that idea.
“Here’s the thing,” I said. “We’ll both have to deal with the five-hour flight to L.A., but for the next several days, I’ll be relaxing while crossing the entire continent. I’ll have constantly changing scenery, a bed to sleep in, and Amtrak will provide me with three meals a day . . . all included in the fare.”
Alex seemed intrigued by what he was hearing.
“I’ll meet and get to know my fellow passengers at each meal and I can have grits with my omelet every morning at breakfast.”
I think I lost him when I mentioned the grits.
Lost him at grits? Must be a yankee—but then again so are you—go figure! Reminds me of the story of the yankee who asked what the waitress was serving. She replied “grits”. He replied he didn’t order grits. She said in a prouder Southern accent. “Sir, you don’t order grits, they just come.”
I’ve never understood the people who shudder at the word “grits”, as if there was a very spicy taste to them. I can’t imagine those people have ever tasted grits. But they have to be served very hot and the secret is lots and lots of melted butter.