A Conversation for the 100th Time.

I enjoy chatting with cab drivers. It’s a boring job and most of them enjoy the diversion of a little conversation.  I started as I usually do by asking him how long he had been driving a cab.

“Three years here in Oakland,” he said

We were stopped at a red light on our way from the Oakland airport to a Hyatt hotel in Emeryville. “But before I came to the Bay Area, I drove a cab for almost ten years in Chicago,” he said.

“That’s where I’m headed,” I said. “I’m taking the train tomorrow morning.”

The driver turned in his seat and stared back at me. “You’re taking the train to Chicago?”

“Yes.”  I already knew what he was going to say next.

 “How long does that take?” he asked.

“I’ll be there Thursday afternoon.”

Another pause.

“But today is Monday,” he said.

“Yes, but I don’t actually get on the train until tomorrow morning. And tomorrow is Tuesday.

“But you won’t get there until Thursday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday . . . that’s three days.” There was a note of incredulity in his voice.

“Well, first of all,” I said, “it’s only two nights on the train and I’ll be in Chicago in the middle of the afternoon the next day. I have my own room on the train with a bed to sleep in. And all my meals are included in the fare.”

He didn’t seem impressed.

“Tomorrow around lunch time, we’ll be crossing the Sierras and I’ll have a great view down into Donner Lake.”  

Still nothing from the front seat, but he was staring at me in his mirror.

“Well, ten thousand men built that railroad and they did it with picks and shovels and wheel barrows. They built the Trans-Continental Railroad when most people thought it couldn’t be done.”

Still silence from the front seat as we pulled up in front of the hotel.

“Think of it this way,” I said. “The plane is just transportation to where your vacation begins, but the train ride is part of your vacation experience.”

He nodded and grinned. “I’ll think about it.”