Why We're Awesome

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Stepping inside the train at Union Station at long last, the only thing that sounded good to me was sleep. Upon donning my comfortable clothing, I found myself pajama clad in a place where I felt a suit would be more appropriate. It wasn't that the dining car felt all that elegant, or that I really felt underdressed. But being in a dining car on a moving train, I couldn't help but imagine myself stepping into "Murder on the Orient Express." Just without the murder part, and more of the elegance part.

While gathered around the dining car door, waiting for the frantic crew to prepare for us to eat, we found our typical cast of characters slowly supplemented by a set of side characters, some even recurring. We were once again joined by the ever present Cornbread, and my friend from Union Station, James William. Alongside these two familiar faces, one new character introduced himself: an older and wizened man in Amish-like dress, the embodiment of joviality and archaic manners, who went by Johnny.

Before we knew it, Finn, Bari (clad in a dinosaur onesie), and I found ourselves dining with Johnny. We heard stories of his travels, and he laughed along with ours. He seemed to be traveling alone, and treated himself to the expensive and minuscule steak from the train's limited menu. Dining with a complete stranger (in a non-blind date kind of circumstance) is a wonderful yet strange experience, and is something everyone should try to do at some point in their life. Over good food and drink, it seems to me that everyone opens up a bit more, and stories flow.

Johnny told a story about driving two thousand miles on a trip to Idaho with his truck driver step-brother, soon after his wife passed. He told a story about the time his Amtrak train was stuck overnight in a twelve foot snow bank. A woman on the train, he said, joked that that night she got the best sleep she ever had on a train, without all of the rocking.

It seems, so far, that our group has a strange knack of attracting single traveler's. Cornbread, James, Johnny; they're all traveling alone, and so they latch on to our group and share in our togetherness. We share dinner, we play cards, we swap stories, and they come back to find us if they have the chance.

This just tells me we're doing something right. We're a group that appears welcoming enough for strangers to wander up and accepting enough to let them stay.