A Dose of Train Drama

Orlando to Washington DC, Silver Meteor, Train No. 98

Amtrak Silver Meteor train arriving at the Orlando, Florida station.

Amtrak Silver Meteor train arriving at the Orlando, Florida station.

On a hot sunny afternoon, two short whistles sound and the train lurches forward from the Orlando, Florida train station. A bulky woman with chin length blonde hair reaches over my lap while apologizing for leaving her things scattered between the seats. Cigarette smoke perfumes her canary yellow peasant blouse. She tells me her name is Sherry.

Sherry’s neck is branded with a tattoo bearing a man’s name. Three stars circle it. Other tattoos streak down her arms like rivers with boat docks. I’m wearing my conference clothes – a pencil skirt and boat-neck shirt. Small gold hoop earrings dangle from my ears.

Sometimes when on a train asking a question may lead to a complicated and prolonged account of life events. You have to be ready to listen.

“Are you going to Washington?” I ask.

“New York,” she says. “I got on at Sebring, Florida. I was visiting my 22-year old daughter. She’s having trouble with her second pregnancy. I’ve been there since early July. I have a son who is also 22, but they’re not twins. He was born nine months after his sister. My two youngest are girls, 15 and 6. They live with their father and me. I have one grandchild who is two years old. I live in a small town where the biggest attraction is the live lobster tank at the grocery store.”Continue reading