Monday, November 9, 2015

5 - Boomtown


              Jesus Christ, I had no idea things were this bad. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

              I thought things were rough in San Francisco, but holy crap. It is bad out here. It is bad. I’m one day into my trip and I’m actually pretty sure that I’m going to die. How the hell did I not know about this? It is like Mad Freaking Max out here.

              The trains have been militarized, which I knew about in theory, but I figured it was just a precautionary thing. Like reassurance. They did the same thing after 9/11 – there were soldiers in the airports, and they mostly just stood around, keeping an eye on things, just being a presence.

              This is not that. This is like you will get shot if you stand in line for the bathroom. This is like, if there’s a crowd of people waiting at the train station, we don’t stop there. This is terrifying. I am terrified.

              When we got on the train, they ran us through the safety drill, and they played an alarm tone for us. They said if we heard this tone, it was a crash warning. We check our seatbelts, wrap our arms under our knees, and prepare for impact. They’ve sounded that alarm fifteen times in the past six hours. At least a couple times, we clearly hit something.

              The tracks are lined with tents, close enough that I don’t know how they don’t get sucked off the ground by the train’s wake. The guy behind me said that the people in the tents wait for the trains to break down, then they scramble in and take what they can grab until the soldiers chase them off. Some of them get on the tracks and try to force the trains to stop, but the trains don’t stop for them anymore. Hence, y’know, all the alarms and soft collisions.

              In Chicago, I get off the train and get onto a bus. The train attendants have walked us through what to expect, that we’ll basically be flanked by an armed escort. They told us that if anyone starts shooting, to run in a zig-zag pattern, either toward the bus (which, like the train, is armored), or back toward the train, whichever is closer. Then they started the beverage service. I asked for their liquor menu and pretty much ordered one of everything.

              I find myself wondering if mom knew. Like, did she know it was this bad out here? Is this like As I Lay Dying or something? I mean, I thought we had a pretty good relationship, but maybe she wants me dead.

              Jesus, maybe she does want me dead. I mean, I left, right? I moved away and I never looked back, I basically abandoned her, abandoned the whole family, I abandoned Terri, and I didn’t even do it sadly, with like, remorse. I just skipped away into my bright blue future on the west coast, and I haven’t even been that great about calling. And I think I missed her last birthday. I did. Holy shit. It was November. That was six months ago.

              Oh my god, what have I done?

              I need to get that drink cart back here.