Stephen Kahn

Canada Train Trip and Class System (Part 1 of ?)

In Good news, Humor on January 11, 2013 at 12:54 am

Pete shined the bat signal in the cloudy midday sky. As always, I am confused. About what? Well, at the age of 68, just confused. For example, what should I post about? If I post about my main activity (starting an “atheist church” on Whidbey), I run the risk of irritating my Christian readers). If I post about anything else, I am sure I am irritating/boring all four or five or six of my readers). Well, I was going to write about our train trip across Canada. So I will. I better get an answer from Pete, at least.

As we left Vancouver, we saw wires running on poles alongside the train tracks. I assumed they were power lines. One of the train crew helpfully told us that they were telegraph line wires, from the pre-telephone line days when the train tracks were first laid across Canada. The railroad finds it too expensive to tear them down. If I knew Morse Code, I suppose I could use the lines to send a secret message to . . . whom? The Taliban? Do they know Morse Code to send secret messages the CIA would never spot. Is Morse Code compatible with the Koran?

An interesting thing we discovered as we crossed Canada was that “Via Rail,” the passenger train system crossing Canada is actually three different railroads imperfectly merged into one system. Each section of the railroad has different crews, different cultures, different economies, and different virtues and flaws.

The Western part of Canada has the best economy. The service was the best, at least as far as meals and crew chipperness. My wife and I were traveling “first class,” (something we could not quite grasp or deal with, never having traveled first class on anything before in our lives). Meals were excellent and the crewfolk were cheerful and upbeat. However, every silver lining has a cloud.

The silver lining in Western Canada was that the first class crew assumed that the first class passengers knew the drill. At various points during the trip, we had to switch trains in various train stations. What my wife and I did not understand (not being part of the “landed gentry” or whatever they are called in Canada), is that first class passengers have special semi-hidden “lounges” in the train stations where they first class passengers gather and drink themselves silly. (My wife and I are just naturally silly, without needing that much alcohol to assist the process.) After a while, the lounge crew guide the addled passengers to their first class cars.

My wife and I continually lined ourselves up with the third class (steerage?) passengers and thus finding ourselves at the wrong gate or in the wrong line. The train crew, doing their best imitation of supercilious English butlers would look at our tickets and say, “Oh, no, madam and sir, you are supposed to be at Gate 17.” [instead of Gate 4 or wherever we were standing]. Although I have never been to Europe, as Canada is a combination of English and French people], I presume Canadian train staff have cross-bred to create a kind of impeccable disdain that merges to form a kind of genetically modified SUPER- SUPERCILIOUS monstrosity. So whenever we found ourselves in the incorrect line (every time we made a transfer) the staff would look at us with a polite expression of “I thought everyone in the effete upper class was born knowing what line to stand in as they were being driven to the slaughterhouse. . .”

  1. “(My wife and I are just naturally silly, without needing that much alcohol to assist the process.)”

    My husband, Lee, & I are the same way. 🙂

    Recently, he said that “our song” is the theme from Green Acres. Years ago, Green Acres reruns were on “Nick At Night”. Lee & I would sing the theme song, with him singing the Eddie Arnold part, & me singing the Eva Gabor part.


    • Hi Karen, Thanks for reading my silly blog. If you still read Wandering Views, tell them out of mercy I decided as a Christmas present not to comment in January.I could see that TJ, a nice fellow was working himself up to kicking me out. But I am reading most of what people post there and it is, as usual, silly nonsense. For example, about the flu.

  2. All the people who refuse to get flu shots and depend on “herd immunity” for protection.

    • From what I understand, it isn’t that they are depending on “herd immunity”, but on alternative methods & such. And there is indeed a lot of controversy over not only the effectiveness of the flu shot, but what is in it & the other health ramifications it could have.

  3. Maybe. Perhaps praying will help. After reading John Barry’s book about the 1918 flu epidemic, my guess is that immunization is the best way to go. I am glad that my wife and I had our shots, even if the current vaccine is estimated to be about 60% effective. Modern medicine seems to be much more effective than a hundred years ago, though it is not absolutely certain. On the other hand, religious belief is not more effective now than it was thousands of years ago, which adds up to zero. Oh, yes, that’s how I get kicked off boards. Well, this is my board, so unless I ban myself, I guess I can utter whatever opinions amuse me today. By the way, although my computer skills were not what they once were, there seems to be a serious computer hazard at the moment involving Java, and you might want to disable it on your browser until the all-clear is announced.

  4. your words on this train trip are first class, to go with your tickets. cheers.

  5. Thanks, Joemb. I am now hoping to ride the train to Oregon, perhaps in March. The train tracks from Everett are frequently being blocked by mud slides, so “Buried in mud” maybe the class I ride next.

  6. “On the other hand, religious belief is not more effective now than it was thousands of years ago, which adds up to zero.”
    It is that very narrow thinking that makes you an unsuitable first class passenger… ;+>

    • Thanks, Pete. My thinking is obviously deficient for first class travel. Earlier today I split wood with my Christian friends (and as usual, held my tongue). I did learn that skunks do live on Whidbey Island. I looked in th mirror, and then sniffed myself. Tomorrow, I will visit my atheist “flock.”

      A few days ago I visited a urologist, and learned more than I want to know about my prostate, but not nearly enough.

      Some time in the relatively near future (if I live that long), I will visit my imaginary friend. When I was about four years old, I had an imaginary friend named (God knows why) “Hikyah.” We’ll leave the name at that.

      My wife and I belong to a funeral co-op. We plan to be buried as simply and inexpensively as possible. As we both prefer there be no funeral service, we have indicated that present. My Christian neighbor / friend said to me, “I have come to understand the word ‘closure’ after the body of my best friend of my youth — the first American fighter pilot shot down and killed in Vietnam — was located and buried.”

      After filling out some of the co-op funeral forms (surprisingly difficult task), I indicated, “I prefer to be cremated and disposed of as simply and cheaply as possible. My preference is for no service. However, as an atheist, I won’t be in a position to worry about the matter, so my wife or daughter can do whatever the **** they want.

  7. Correction: “Have indicated that PREFERENCE.”

  8. […] Canada Train Trip and Class System (Part 1 of ?) […]

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