Pepperpots

-by Joanie

I took a train from New York City to Buffalo, NY to visit Michael at the summer festival in a tiny town in upstate New York where he is for the summer. The train seemed like a good idea—Amtrak has wifi, it’s cheaper than flying (my round trip ticket was $112 after my AAA discount). It takes about the same amount of time as driving! How could this not be a win?

Well, aside from the many, many delays, and the fact that the wifi was NONEXISTENT, my car came with pepperpots.
No, not those things you shake pepper out of. The women of a certain age who are shaped like them. This is a reference to Monty Python.
There were about four of them, who refused to sit together, but each taking up two seats alone. This distance did not stop them from shouting to each other for the duration of the train ride.
“SANDY! SANDY! HOW DO YOU OPEN THIS THING?”
The pepperpot in question, seated directly behind me, proceeded to whack the back of the seat as she tried to open the tray table, each time shouting “WHOOPS!”
This went on for about a dozen “WHOOPS!”
And then it got quiet for a hot second. And then…
“SANDY! HOW DO YOU SPELL TIRED?”
….
Sandy enlisted my help in spelling tired. And then she contested my spelling of it.
And then…
“JUDY! JUDY! I WISH I HAD BOUGHT A MAGAZINE.”
“I HAVE A MAGAZINE, SANDY. YOU CAN BORROW IT WHEN I AM FINISHED.”
“I KNOW THAT BUT I STILL WISH I HAD BOUGHT ONE.”
All the way to Buffalo, save for the peaceful 45 minutes where they all passed out from the walking they ostensibly did through Times Square.
“SANDY! BOY, IT FEELS GOOD TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF.”
I put my earphones in, but could still hear snippets of their conversations:
“BUT SHE DIED.” “OOO, THIS IS A PRETTY BUILDING HERE.” “THE FOOD ON THE TRAIN IS EXPENSIVE.” “THE REPUBLICANS HAD BETTER FIND SOMEBODY BETTER, WE HAVE TO PAY DOWN THAT NATIONAL DEBT!” “I LIKE SARAH PALIN!”
Note to self: when pepperpots arrive on the train, move to other seats. Or pretend to be asleep. Or accept that turning your earphones all the way up means that one day you, too, will be shouting across the train at your friends.

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