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July 6th, 2003

Taking the train back to Raleigh...

We got up at about 9, MMMMMMMMMMMMMed, and packed up. We got a "late checkout" of 1:00 (as opposed to 12; I wasn't very impressed with that). We went to IHOP to have breakfast. It was good, but it took longer than yesterday, and "the machine" didn't seem to be as "well oiled" today. I ordered what I thought was a cheese and sausage omelet with a side order of corn beef hash. What came was an egg omelet with cheese sprinkled on the top and stuffed with corn beef hash. Not what I had envisioned, and there was no sausage in sight. I ate the entire thing, however. (No surprise there.)

We walked to the IHOP, and had breakfast. We waited a little longer than we did yesterday, but it was still a satisfactory experience. From there, we walked over to the Walgreen and bought snacks for the train ride back to Raleigh. On the way, we passed a pitiful girl begging for money. She was the most passive panhandler I’ve ever seen. She was not standing in a good place, had no visible place to put any money she might receive, and had a sign that was too hard to read. She looked more like she was waiting for a bus than begging for money.

We walked back to the hotel, and on our way back up to the room, Robert got a glimpse of “the cell phone man” sitting in the lobby. He’s the guy who was at the pool yesterday making and taking calls loudly enough for everyone at the pool to hear his conversation. We went up, laid on the bed until the very last minute, and then took our stuff down to the lobby to hang out until about 4:00. We went through the NCGLFF schedule and picked out movies that interested both of us, and then plotted them to see what our schedule would look like. Not too bad, only 11 films this year. That's a major cutback for me, but much more realistic.

At about 3:15, we walked over to the combination KFC/Pizza Hot place, and had lunch. Robert ordered Honey BBQ Wings, and I ordered a personal pan sized Pepperoni Pizza. We ate in, and then walked back to the hotel.

We called for a cab at about 4:30. It came in less than 5 minutes. The cab driver was really nice. He talked about moving to Charlotte from New Jersey, and about how much he loved his work. Refreshing. We got to the train station in less than 15 minutes, which put us there about an hour early.

We started a crossword puzzle to pass the time, which worked. Before we knew it, it was time to board. There were a cast of characters on this train. They started in the terminal, on our way up the ramp to board, some religion-obsessed black man was talking about the blood, and the lamb, and carrying on and on and on about the bible and all that mess to some lady walking behind him. It wasn’t clear if she was with him, or just "stuck," or what. We got to the entrance of the train car.

Fortunately for us, but perhaps, unfortunately for the salvation of souls in our car, the ticket taker said to me, "Where to?"

"Raleigh," I said.

"Car to the right, please."

To the street preacher behind me, "And you sir, where to?"

"Durham," he responded.

"Car to the left, please."

There really is a God.

There was no business class car on the return train, so we sat in coach. It was absolutely freezing in the car when we started out. I had to get a t-shirt out and put it on over my tank top, which helped only a little.

There was a strange older man following around a young, hot kid on this train. The kid was sitting in the seat in front of us. Early on, the older man came from his seat toward the front of the car, and sat in the seat in front of us with the boy. After a while he got up again, and the kid stretched his feet out on the other seat, as if to say, "I want the entire seat, thanks."

After a few minutes, the man came back, and said, “Excuse me,” and again, “Excuse me,” until the boy moved his feet. There were lots of empty seats in this car, so this was perplexing. A short while after, the kid got up, and went forward to another car. The old man moved over into his seat by the window. After a while the boy came back and took the seat in the aisle next to the man. A little later, the kid got up to go to the bathroom, presumably, and the old man got up and followed him. Shortly after, the boy returned, and shortly after that the man.

After another little while, the man asked the kid a few questions, “What’s that on the back of your shirt?” The kid didn’t answer. More loudly, “WHAT'S THAT ON THE BACK OF YOUR SHIRT?” The kid mumbled something. The man said loudly, “Oh you’re into racing?” The kid said back, in a real loud voice, “Yes, I’m into racing!”

Loudly again, “What town are you going to?” Boy doesn’t answer right away. More loudly, and words more pronounced, “What town (big long “oh” in the word town) are you going to?” The boy presumably answered, “Raleigh.” “YOU GO TO NC STATE?”

I worked on my journal some, helped Robert a little with that crossword puzzle we had started in the station, but it was so hard that eventually we gave up and looked at the answers.

Robert and I ate a lot of Cheetos. Yummy. They were giving a free drink and one free snack to each passenger, and I went up front to get ours. We really didn’t “need” anything, but it was free, so I took it. I took two bags of Cheetos, a Diet Coke, and a Sprite.

As I passed by the seat in front of ours, that man said to me, again in a real loud voice (after eyeing my t-shirt), "What's the Tour de Friends?"

"It's a charity bike ride from NC to Washington DC."

"What charity is it for?"

"AIDS," I said.

"Oh."

When I got back in our seat, we opened the little bags of Cheetos, and poured them into the can of Cheetos we had bought at Walgreen’s this morning, half of which we’d already eaten. At this point Robert looked over, saw what I was writing, and laughed. I was going to type the next line, “I am now going to ask him for more Raisinettes,” when he said, “Would you like some more Raisinettes?” Too weird!

There is a girl sitting one seat back from us on the other side, who is curled up in her seat facing the back of the seat. She looks rather precarious, as if, if the train stops fast enough she will roll forward off the seat onto the floor. I hope it doesn’t happen.

After a while, I went to the front of the car where there was a table, with an outlet, as my computer battery depleted and cried for juice. While up there, one of the ticket-takers came up to talk to the three women who were playing cards on the table across the aisle.

Turns out he's a volunteer on the train. He retired from IBM after 30 years, and now just volunteers on the Raleigh-Charlotte-Raleigh train. Evidently one of the women, who said she gets motion sickness from cars and trains, but not boats and planes, had earlier asked him if she could get some Dramamine, and there wasn't any available. He said, "I'm going to try and get Amtrak to offer it on the train. And if they won't, well then I'm going to get some and put it in my pocket to be able to give to a passenger myself. My first thought was, "How nice." My second thought was, "Lawsuit waiting to happen." A sad statement about today's society.

We got back to Raleigh at about 9:15, 9:30. Robert's car was still there, and intact. We were pleased about that. He dropped me off and went home. Home sweet home.

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