Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It's Okay

Trump is the 'bad boy' your teenage daughter started dating. You keep telling yourself; "Don't worry; it's just a passing phase."

She keeps telling herself; "Don't worry; I'm just having a little fun (and it will show them I'm sick their rules.)"

Then one day she tells you; "Me and Donny eloped last night, I'm pregnant so we'll need to live with you guys for a while. Okay?"

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2: Red and Jimmy - Chapter 1; Night Train

This is 34 in a series of  chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 1; Night Train

"Dinner reservations?"
The voice filled a gap in the song that was playing in her earbuds and Red opened her eyes to see a man walking down the isle towards their seats.  She nudged Jimmy; sitting next to her. He reached up and pressed the pause button on the wire to his ear buds and looked at her;
"Let's eat in the dinning car tonight."
"That's so expensive." He grunted.
"I know," She said,  "but I don't feel like a sandwich in the snack bar. And anyway, shouldn't we see if the food is a good as they say it is?" 
"Alright, but you pay."
She laughed and whispered; "Right." Then she touched the man on the arm as he was walking by her and she said; "We'll take six o'clock."
"I only have 5:30, 6:30,  and 7:00 reservations left."
"We'll take 5:30, "she said, "I'm starving." She looked at Jimmy; "Is that alright?"
"Fine." He sighed.
The man wrote something on a small piece of paper and handed it to Red. "Okay, you have a reservation for two at 5:30 in the dining car."
"Cool!" Red squeaked. The man walked on and continued calling; "Dinner reservations?"
The little boy, who was sitting with his mom in the seat in front of them was looking over the seat back at Red. He looked hungry. Red smiled at him and giggled. Then looked at Jimmy and said; "Isn't this exciting?"
Jimmy grunted.
"Won't this be fun?" She said. "I've heard the food is really good in the Dining car."
Jimmy smiled at her and said; "I know, you said that." Then he clicked off the pause, settled back in his seat and closed his eyes. "We'll see."
"I can't wait." She said to the little boy. He disappeared down behind his seat back.


When they entered the Dining car the attendant motioned to them to sit at the table he was standing next to.  There was already someone sitting in the booth, across from the seat where the attendant was pointing.  Jimmy gave Red a puzzled look. Red smiled back and nodded. She'd heard about this custom on trains; if there are only one or two in your party you will share a table with someone else.

So Jimmy and Red slid in the booth across from an older couple who looked up from their menus, smiled brightly,  and said; "Hi." As if they were-long lost friends.

It turns out that this couple weren't a couple after all. They were traveling alone and had been seated next to each other. They had only met at lunch -- when they had also been seated together -- so they already knew each others story.

The waiter was right there and handed each person a long narrow sheet of paper. "Please fill in the bottom with your car number and room number and sign your name. "

"We're in coach." Red said.

"Then just put your car number." The waiter smiled.

He collected the papers, took our drink orders, and walked away. 

"Meals are included with the rooms." The lady said. "I'm Alice and this is Bill. Bill and I met at lunch and now we've been seated together again. Isn't that lucky?"

Bill smiled at Alice and nodded. "What are the odds?" he said.

"Hi, I'm Andrea and this is James." Red smiled at Jimmy. "We already met, too."

"In high school." Jimmy added with a laugh.

"Are you married?" Alice asked.

"Two years." Red said.

"Is this your first train ride?"

"No, I wouldn't say that." Red laughed.

"Not exactly." Jimmy added.

"But it's our first time on this train." Red explained.  "This is our first time on the Coastal Express."

"It's Bill's first time as well." Alice said. She looked at him and asked; "Right?"

"That's right." He said  "I've always wanted to take the train but I've never had time to travel before now."

"Too busy." Alice added. "Bill's never traveled at all until now."

"Never been out of Seattle before now." Bill added.

"Your kidding, " Red said, "you've never been out of Washington state?"

Alice bubbled; "He's 72 years old and he's never even been out of Seattle - not just Washington state - Seattle. He's never been out of the city. Can you believe it?" 

"Why haven't you ever left Seattle?" Red asked.

"He said he was too busy with work and all, you know." Alice said.
Bill added; "When I retired I sold everything and bought a train ticket and I've been traveling ever since."

"Sold everything?" Jimmy asked. "Why, are you dying?'

Red turned to Jimmy and gave him her 'be nice' look. 

"No, no, no, nothing like that." Bill laughed. "I just retired and I wanted a change."

"He sold his house and all his possessions." Alice bubbled.  "He even gave away all his cloths and furniture - everything that he couldn't sell he gave away. Everything he couldn't give away he just left behind. Isn't that incredible?"

The waiter brought the drinks and waited for their food orders.

"You should have the steak." Alice suggested. "I've had it before and it's great."

"I take it this isn't your first time." Red as she ordered the steak.

"Oh good heavens no." Alice laughed.

Jimmy and Alice ordered the steak and Bill ordered the fish. "I'd like to try something different." He said apologetically. 

"Why am I not surprised." Red smiled.

The waiter left.

"So, Bill, " Red asked, "where have you're travels taken you so far?"

Bill paused a second, glanced at Alice and when she didn't say anything, he answered; "Well first thing, I flew out to New Jersey to see my Son and his family."

"It was his first ever time on an airplane." Alice chimed.

"Figures." Jimmy looked at Red, smiled and looked like 'what?'.

Bill continued; "Well, you know I just figured why not splurge and take a plane. I have tons of money now and I can afford some luxury."

"Well what did you think of flying?" Red asked.

"Have you ever flown?" Alice asked.

"Not here." Jimmy glanced at Red.

"So how was it?" Red persisted. She didn't want the conversation to take that turn.

"You see me here right -- on the train -- that should answer that."

"He said it was terrible." Alice said. "There were long delays. The plane was and hour late getting there. Once he got on the plane they had to wait another hour to take off."

"Some sort of mechanical problem." Bill interrupted. 

"You're kidding." Red looked at Bill -- hoping Alice would get the hint and shut up.

She didn't. "I know, " She continued, "and once he was on board, his seat was uncomfortable and he was wedged between two executive types who had had a little too much to drink."

"It was very uncomfortable." Bill added.

Alice continued; "He said they were vulgar and loud and kept harassing the stewardesses. Can you imagine?"

"I've heard stories like that about flying." Red said.

"Well, I'd never fly again." Bill said.

"Why would you?" Alice laughed. "Trains are faster, much more comfortable, have much better service."

"Faster?" Jimmy laughed. "Really?"

"Of course." Alice laughed. "I don't mean that trains go faster than planes. But don't forget that they have to take off and land, taxi to the terminal, sometimes wait -- like Bill said -- a long time to get access to the runways."

"And don't forget about delays for weather and all that." Bill added.

"Trains just stop, pick up and drop off and then they go again. No delays. It only takes a couple minutes and they're back on the way -- full speed ahead." Alice said.

"But there are a lot more planes." Jimmy said. "So the service has to be better."

"Not really," Bill said. "Take this Coastal Express service for instance. They run a train every two hours from New York and Los Angeles -- and back."

"And pretty much the same service between all the major cities." Alice interrupted.

"And, " Bill continued, "with all the stops it takes a bit longer over all, but even so 14 hours coast to coast isn't that bad."

"Once you eat, take a nap or - like on this overnight run -- you can get a bed and sleep off this great meal." Alice said.

"And when you wake up you have time for a cup of coffee and a roll and you're in LA." Bill said.

"All relaxed and ready for the new day. You can't say that about a plane.' Alice laughed.

"That's for sure -- that's for damn sure." Bill said.

"Bill!" Alice scolded.

Bill smiled sheepishly as the waiter arrived with their food. They began eating and the conversation took a temporary back seat to the yummy sounds of four travelers enjoying a good meal.