The guy seated next to me is fully reclined and wearing slippers. We talk about where we're from, where we're headed. "Why you going to Lakeland, you have family there?" he asks me. Nope, just riding down for the day. "All good," he says, bleary-eyed and telling me he's been on this train, the Amtrak Silver Star, since before 3 a.m. when he boarded in Orangeburg, S.C.
We arrive in Lakeland around lunchtime, he goes his way, I go mine. Later, my return train is running almost two hours behind, but what the heck, I'm taking a vacation day and I just don't care. Eventually I'm rolling again, homeward bound, baby. A slightly peeved-sounding conductor makes an announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder, please no paper towels in the toilets. If you put paper towels in the toilet, there will be no toilet. And then you will have to hold it in till your destination."
I'm feeling a little cramped in my assigned seat in coach so mosey back to the business-class car, just for a look see, and remarkably there are available seats everywhere! No one's going to mind if I plop into one of these big, comfy spots with this nice window all to myself. Ahhhhh.
Not so fast, here comes a serious-faced Amtrak attendant. "Excuse me sir, what's your destination?" Orlando, I answer. "Only 20 minutes away," he says, and moves on.