One of my favorite things about Amtrak is a certain goodnatured haphazardness that seems to run collectively throughout the organization. One of the best examples of this was shortlying into our voyage. It’s what I like to call the Free Sandwich Debacle.
The explanation: Over the PA, in a typically longwinded address, we were told that due to the breakage of “certain equipment” in the snack car (read: refrigerator) that “arrived in Portland that way” (read: not our fault), everybody on board was going to get a free sandwich, with chips and a cookie. In a box. With a coupon.
The fallout: In order to get our coupon, we were all instructed to return to our seats. No mention was made of any individuals who might for some unknown reason not want a free sandwich. After receiving our coupon we were encouraged to proceed fairly immediately back to the snack car (4 cars away in many cases), to get our sandwich. This led to a herd of people moving all in the same direction on the train, without consideration of the fact that these very people, in a very few minutes would need to move in exactly the opposite direction.
Now, the aisle on the train is somewhat larger than that on a plane, but still, folks, we’re talkin’ one lane. I got my sandwich and watched the well-intentioned hilarity unfold.