The “Train”

I’m on my way to Portland because my grandma’s not doing too hot and my family’s getting together to be with her.

I was supposed to take the train. I love the train. It’s serene, and they play a movie, and it’s beautiful to watch the Great Northwest through your window, and there’s an entire car filled with food you can buy and then go back to your seat and eat while you sit and watch a movie and watch beautiful scenery and stuff.

When I got to the train station, there was devastating news. The train was two hours behind. But there was a bus! A bus that was leaving on time! And so I took it.

This story feels like it’s leading up to some incredible climax of comedic hilarity (as opposed to all the other types of hilarity out there), but it’s not. It’s just me complaining.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. I ended up choosing the worst seat possible on this entire bus. I thought it was the right seat because it was positioned below the monitor in a way that seemed optimal for movie viewing. However, there is no movie, because I think our bus driver might be a little bit drunk. Not full-on drunk. But a little tipsy. (Confession: I’ve never drunk alcohol, so I don’t even know how to talk about alcohol consumption in such a way that I can accurately describe the period between “just a sip that has virtually no effect” and “enough sips to feel something but not enough to be legally drunk.” Wait, is that even a thing? Is there such a point?)

2. Correction: my bus driver is actually drunk.

3. The reason my seat is the worst possible seat is because I accidentally sat directly across the aisle from the one and only person talking on this bus. The rest of us just want to get to Porland quickly and quietly and not dead. Conversely, this woman will not shut up. I knew I was in trouble when I sat down and she started in on how “the trees were green these days, especially in the summer…” and continued talking for five minutes straight… to nobody. The elderly gentleman next to her whom I assume is her husband but might actually be her father because he looks old and decrepit did not say a single word. For five entire minutes. She rambled. He sat. And I tried to read, but my ADD addled brain can’t filter out people’s voices so I can’t help but listen to every single thing she says.

4. Like a typical person with the inattentive subtype of ADHD (or ADD, for all you who are not neurotically fixated on using the correct DSM-IV terminology), I forgot to bring my Ritalin on my week-long trip. Awesome.

5. Why am I the type of person that feels like the act of getting up and changing seats so as to not be across the aisle from a gasbag lady who won’t stop talking to herself is a little bit too rude to actually do?

6. I was not concerned about appearing rude when, while waiting for the “train” in the train station, I got up and changed seats when some giant woman across from me took out a syringe, filled it with liquid, then accidentally sprayed the liquid on the wall behind to me getting some on the computer of the guy next to me, and then, after that, slowly removed her sock in some disgusting strip-tease. I was like… oh no, what is happening… please don’t be gangrenous, please don’t be gangrenous… and then she got to the bandage. And the bandage was purple because of some nasty goop oozing out of her toes. And I got up and switched seats. And felt no guilt. (Yes, that actually happened.)

 “Maybe if I dress my nasty purple-pus covered foot-wound really slowly and methodically nobody will notice in the entire train station filled with people sitting within ten feet of me…”(This photo is a picnic compared to what I actually saw. I think it’s pretty telling that there wasn’t even a photo on Google as gross as her amputation-waiting-to-happen.)
(Wait. Side note. I was on “labeled for re-use.” Word to the wise: never ever ever search for the terms “gangrene foot” on a regular Google images search. I might have traumatic stress disorder now. *shudders violently*)

7. Is drunk driving in the rain more hazardous than plain old drunk driving? Because it’s raining now.

8. 45 minutes into our ride, our inebriated bus driver pulled into the parking lot of a KFC. “Five minutes!” he bellowed. Nobody got up. Nobody got up because we just want to get to Portland. On an Amtrak train. But instead we’re on a bus that smells like urine and pot. And instead of a meal car, we just got dropped off at a KFC like we’re high school kids on some tour or sporting event or something. Eventually Chatty Kathy got up and said “I’m gonna get some chicken.” When the driver got back, she hadn’t returned. He started to leave saying “I think that’s everybody.” Because I’m a freaking hero I yelled “There’s one more!” We sat and waited for her.

“Get off the bus boys and girls! It’s time for some finger-licking fun!”

9. Is it bad that I genuinely kind of regret that act of heroism?

10. She took a long time.

11. Does this post even sound like me? I have this thing where my writing sometimes starts to mimic what I’m reading and right now I’m reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants (which is very funny, btw) so I feel like maybe I’m being a bit too Tina Fey. (There was a time where I was reading a lot of Gerard Manley Hopkins, so my poetry sounded exactly like Hopkins, minus the genius, and with a dash of too-lazy-to-edit. It was not my poetry’s finest moment.)

12. See? I am being Tina Fey right now. I just used a vague reference. About 40% of her similes involve pop culture references that are so obscure to me that I have to Google them to even have the slightest whiff of what she’s getting at, and similarly (yet tragically more nerdy) I have the feeling that unless you’re an English dork like me you won’t have read the poetry of some random fiercely closeted gay Jesuit poetic genius from the 19th century named Gerard Manley Hopkins. Or maybe you have and I totally underestimated your knowledge of English literature and now you’re offended. Either way: sorry.

13. The fact that Tina Fey does that random reference thing is another reason why I’m hating this bus ride. I’ve found myself about 4,000x go “who the crap is Robert Wuhl?” or whoever else only to reach for my laptop and realize that I am not on a train like I paid for, I am on a bus. A bus that smells of pot and urine mixed with KFC. Next to a woman whose voice is so familiar to me now I could probably pick her out if she was a voice-over actor in the next Toy Story.

14. Oh no…. OH. NO. Chatty Kathy next to me has, you will not believe this, started narrating her completion of a crossword puzzle. I am not joking. This is me directly transcribing:

“I still think this one’s corporation.” (Pause)

“Craze. CRAZE! C-r-a-z-e.” (Pause)

“How do you spell ‘usually’? Is it u-s-u-a-l-l-y?” (Me In my head: “Usually!”)

“Oh, I spotted a C!” (Pause)

“Blank guitar: an instrument that’s easily played… wait? What? Isn’t it just supposed to be guitar?” (pause)

“Blank blank mayonnaise blank?” (Pause)

“I think big chunks of hungry are slabs.” (What does that even MEAN?)

“Another word for ‘zest.’(pauses) Gusto!”

“A faux pas is a… is it g-a-f-e? Or g-a-f-f?” (Yes. Your faux pas is both. I’m not sure what that is supposed to imply, but it sure felt snarky and a little sassy to say. In my head. To myself. Because I can’t focus on my book. Because YOU WON’T SHUT UP.)

“This might be ‘smart’ though. S-e-a….(trails off)”

I have no idea how to make sense of half of what she’s saying. Also, again, note that this is not an interactive conversation. Her father?/husband?/pimp?/kidnapped mental ward patient?/mental ward escort? is not talking at all. Zero words.

Chatty Kathy loves crosswords. And KFC. And talking to herself.

15. I just realized something disturbing. I have been laughing out loud somewhat regularly during my reading of Bossypants and writing of this post (is it lame that I laugh at my own posts? Confession: 97% of my objective here is to entertain myself. The other 3% is to be first under Josh Weed on Google.) If the guy in front of me were writing a blog post listing his asinine complaints during his bus-trip to Portland, I would likely appear as number two or three. “A weird guy behind me keeps laughing a creepy laugh. And he’s by himself. On a computer. With no Wifi. He will not stop. It is creepy.”

16. Guess what I just realized I’ve read about 20,000 of today. Numbered lists. That’s right folks, it’s official. I’m accidentally Tina Feying it up, and it’s so extreme that one of her main literary devices slipped in and I didn’t even realize it. This post is exactly like her, except with a little less cool pop-culture and actual humor, and a little more discussion of some hag who talks a lot.

17. Lucky you.

18. I’m in Portland. And the only people still sitting with me waiting for a ride? Chatty Kathy and silent side-kick. And she’s still talking.

It’s been a fun trip!

Photo attributions here and here and here


  1. The other customers in this bookstore are looking at me funny. Apparently, I'm not allowed to laugh at what I'm doing on the computer; it's "suspicious."

    I hear you on the whole mimic what I'm reading thing; I catch myself doing that all the time. I think that's why I don't read as much while I'm writing – especially when I'm revising. I don't like the way anything sounds because it doesn't sound like what I'm reading.

    I took a bus ONE time in my entire life – from Louisville to West Palm Beach. It was a tad longer, but the memories of my trip seem comparable to what you described. Of course, I was about 8, so my memories may be fuzzy. But I clearly remember wackos. And rest stops. And the smell of urine and pot (though I didn't know what pot was at the time…)

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother, Josh. It's good of you to make the trip out to see her.

  2. @Paul Joseph–Thanks. I appreciate the kind words. Also, I really love the image of bookstore patrons being like "why are you interrupting me…" as you laugh.

    @Christine–It's okay. I survived and did not get gangrene juice on me. What more could I ask for?

    @Ann–Whoa. That's new. Yay!!! Now… what is my next goal? Oh, in that equation I forgot to mention that about 73% is connection with awesome people. 97 + 73 + 3 = 100% motivated to blog. And now I don't have the 3. I need a new purpose….

    Also, I'm about to go on a 12 hour car-ride. Talk to y'all then.

  3. one time, my mom, aunt, cousin, and i took the train from LA to San Fran. it was the middle of summer and the AC system was broken (awesome). somewhere in the middle of CA, the train had to stop because some dummy was walking BAREFOOT through the train and got her toe stuck- and broken- in that tiny gap between two cars. the whole train was stopped for like two hours in the middle of nowhere. in summer. with no AC. because of some shoeless moron.

    true story.

  4. Josh, I believe the technical term for "the period between "just a sip that has virtually no effect" and "enough sips to feel something but not enough to be legally drunk", is 'buzzed'. The only reason I believe this is the term is because Columbus is airing these "Don't Drive Drunk–or Even Buzzed" commercials on every single station these days. Also, urine+pot+chicken sounds really gross. I'm sorry.

  5. I have unfortunately had the misfortune of traveling my home country (New Zealand, so no more than 9 hours at a time but still) on trains and buses and while trains are slightly better (through the glory of the food cart) both were riddled with crazy people (is that the right term?) itching to make new friends.

    To conclude next time I don't care how broke I am or if it means the kids don't get new coats for winter, I'm flying.

  6. @TILTE–That story would be so incredibly annoying to live through! However, I kind of can't think of a more bad-a way to break a toe. "How'd you break your toe?" "Oh, it got crushed betwen two moving train cars…"


    @Erin–BUZZED. Of course. I knew this.

    @Su–Yes. I'm glad I could confirm this for you.

    @The Whole Thing Stins–Agreed. In fact, I'm flying home. Thank goodness.

    @Madeline–A stress ball would have been the perfect idea! Instead I passive aggressively wrote a blog-post about loathing her verbal nature. Prety mature, Weed! Way to stay classy.

    @catherinemjohnson–Haha, why thank you.

    @Krstine–Why hello newest follower! Thanks so much for hopping aboard the Weed train, which is actually a nasty bus.

    I have arrived at my destination. And my grandma is rightfully asking "did someone sleep on the nice sofa?" in a semi-annoyed manner. So, all is right with the world

  7. Because it is physically impossible for me to not do something after someone tells me not too I googled gangrene foot. And wanted to throw up a little bit. Thanks a million. Sorry about the chatty kathy though, it's not fair to not be able to run away from people like that.
    -Kimberly (Maquel's friend)

  8. I don't think I could have gotten up and moved either – for exactly the reason you listed. Also feel an uncontrollable urge to look up gangrene foot. Typing this comment is the only thing standing between me and a gross out party.

  9. 1. I hope your Grandmother is getting better!
    2. I would have waited for the train. I love trains.
    3. Feeling drunk is sort of comparable to that feeling you get after not sleeping for a couple days (Although, I have heard that drunk driving is safer than horribly sleep deprived driving).
    4. I love trains.
    5. Buses that take longer than an hour are 🙁 .
    6. You need some ear plugs / headphones. Seriously. 😛

  10. I missed out on the numbered lists since I listened to the Bossy Pants audiobook but man that was a funny book. You're post have far less obscenities though. Bravo!

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