I am writing this from the kitchen area of the Madison Heights, Michigan Days Inn. It is the logical ending place for the journey I just completed to Detroit for a weekend (Thurs-Sat) of gigs. Readers of this blog or my tweets know that I am an avid Amtrak user and will take it from NYC to Boston or DC for a humane and traditional usage of the rail service. However I have also logged train trips of 30 hours (New Orleans to NYC), 20 hours (Chicago to NYC) and other similar journeys when I want to save money on road gigs at the expense of my sleep and sanity.
This weekend I am at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, Michigan and it is a gig that requires me to save money at every turn (starting with bringing a bagged lunch/dinner onto the train). So I booked Amtrak to Detroit (which is a 16 hour train ride to Toledo and a 1 hour Amtrak bus to Detroit – yes they have buses and if you are taller than 5’11” you basically have to sit side saddle to fit into their tiny seats), booked a room for three nights at the aforementioned Days Inn, which met my criteria on hotels.com of “under $50/night while giving me at least a 75% chance of not being a victim of a violent crime,” and booked a cheap flight back home on Spirit Airlines which, based on an informal poll of friends’ Facebook statuses, is rated as a “piece of sh*t.” To put it simply it was a borderline miracle to be in the black for this gig (financially, not a reference to Detroit’s population), but I am and now profits will be directly tied to how much merchandise I push over the next three nights. But that is for Monday’s blog. This one is about the 17 hours of Amtrak that are now seared into my memory, since I only slept 17 minutes of the trip.
For those of you who have not taken Amtrak long distances (the kinds of distances that one usually flies to), imagine a Noah’s Arc of society’s saddest members:
- We will need two (hundred) obese of every race and gender;
- We need at least two (dozen) people who look like they are avoiding TSA scrutiny, but not because they are ardent civil libertarians
- We need two (thousand) people who hate wearing shoes in public
- In J-L’s car we will need two Honey Boo Boos
Yes, you read that last part correctly. The Lake Shore Limited – Amtrak #49 had all the usual things I listed. In addition there were funny little things like the woman sitting in front of me watching bootleg DVDs of movies that are on basic cable right now and the old woman who did not lock the bathroom door (but gave me the dirty look like I wanted to see her ancient body squatting), but the worst aspect to the trip was something unique to this trip (at least for me), which I listed last in the bullet points – a pair of 8 year old Honey Boo Boo-esque twins and their assorted siblings. Here is a list of their offenses with mitigating circumstances when I discovered them:
- Walked up to the woman watching bootleg DVDs and kept asking her to play with the DVD player
- Walked up to me and asked me for M & Ms that I was eating. I said no.
- Started playing with my computer mouse pad at 1 am while I was watching episode 7 of Downton Abbey Season 3.
- Asked if she could sit next to me and watch something else on my computer. I said no in a nice way for a change claiming that I only had “boring grown up stuff.” Then I started playing my digital copy of Toy Story 3 in front of her just so she knew that I DON’T ANSWER TO 8 YEAR OLDS!
- I notice the twins both have hearing aids, which momentarily made me feel bad. I then got over it.
- I discover that there are a total of seven kids, which belong to two women, who may be friends or more likely sisters, or even more likely half-sisters. Both women appeared to be slow. Like not “full retard” to quote Tropic Thunder, but the kind of slow that the Supreme Court would not allow them to be executed for murder convictions. Let that sink in women – these two cannot stop from getting knocked up and will not stop even though at least five of the children appeared special in one or multiple ways.
- At 4 am the younger brother of the twins kept asking me my name. I declined to provide that information to him.
- At 430 am the same younger brother hugged the train conductor planting his face squarely in the cock region of the conductor. My camera phone would not focus quickly enough for a picture.
I had confused feelings about these kids and women, but it is part of a theory I have. Not all handicapped people are good people. We just assume they are, but some of them have to be jerks and rude, just by playing the odds. These kids were not evil and they had problems, but they were also without any manners or sense of propriety (perhaps a Downton Abbey marathon of all of Season 3 was the wrong show to make me forgiving of their poor manners). All I knew was that these women should not have had 7 kids between the two them, as evidenced by the fact that almost all of them seemed sort of fu*ked up. Add in poor manners and a willingness to talk to strangers without any care or reprimand from their moms and I think we have January – July 2014 milk carton models in the waiting.
I finally arrived in Toledo and took the Amtrak bus to Detroit and am now at the Days Inn outside of Detroit. But my room is not ready and will not be for a few hours so I am writing this post in a semi-coma waiting to get into a room that costs as much as a blu ray disc per night. Friday and Saturday shows at Mark Ridley’s will be great, but tonight will definitely be the wild card. It reminds me of the John Malkovich line in In The Line of Fire told to Clint Eastwood’s character, “Do you have any idea what I have done for God and country Frank?? Some pretty horrible fu*king things!” Replace God and country with comedy and money and you know how I feel. Especially knowing that that family on the train is much closer to a television development deal than me.