Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Tomaso Files: Another successful Amtrak Outing

No Fenders Head Scribe Tomaso poses at Blind Crossing sign in Cosmopolis as traffic simply Wizzes by! (The Tomaso Collection)


Author’s Note

Naturally, thee old-ER” I get, the more I lern! Having never before heard of Cosmopolis, Warshington’. A sleepy ‘lil coastal town that I simply love the name of! Which Mary Ellen introduced Mwah to during our camping trip this summer


Even though I could find very little information about this former logging town, other than it’s only “famous” celebrity. Being the notable Artist Elton Bennett who died in a 1974 plane crash at the age of 64.


Although Cosmopolis is adjacent to someplace called Aberdeen, WA. Y’all know where a past lead singer of a 1990’s Seattle Grunge Band crooned about Smells like Teen Spirit came from…



In thee spirit of Turkey Lurkey Day and my latest travel adventure. For which that great Planes, Trains and Automobiles movies prung to mind. But how could it have been released in Gory 1987, Eh? I thought I’d regale Y’all with my Travel-rama’ adventure, which thankfully was seamless and skipped All of that classic movie’s Drama!


And for all of you world class travelers, I realize this probably sounds somewhat silly. Like what’s the big Dealio’ about taking a Cab, Bus and Train to go somewhere, Eh? Whale’ the issue was my Blindness! For which have I reminded Y’all I’m Blind lately?


Not having done this trip before solo. Obviously I didn’t know how I’d get from the unknown Bus Stop into the Train Station and it’s Check-in Desk inside the cavernous building…


My local Cabbie’ (Cab driver) Dave promptly knocked on my door at 9AM sharp, and took my suitcase for Mwah. Had me situated at the nearby Three Rivers Casino by 9:07AM, with the Bus not departing until 9:32AM. With Dave saying the only “potential Hiccup would be if there were any Downed trees on the road, due to the gusty winds we were experiencing that morning, Swell!


Sat on bench with gusting winds after Dave placed my suitcase there for me, along with light drizzle. Before Tacoma Bureua Chief Mary Ellen called me at 9:11AM, checking to see where I was and if I was wearing my sign?


As it really behooves Mwah, and felt quite disparaging that I needed to wear a sign around my neck that Mary Ellen made for me. Saying Eugene and Amtrak Station on it during this supposed era of ADA compliance. Y’all know the Americans with Disabilities Act, Righto! As I felt the only thin I was missing was my cup with pencils for sale…


Since Bus drivers should know to ask a Blind person standing with a White cane what bus they’re waiting for? Which was common practice in Seattle. But being in Bumfiddle’ Florence, Mary Ellen had been told by one of the service’s grumpy drivers that my sign would be prudent, since they Don’t aske Homeless people where they’re going? Which is a problem at another of the local bus stops.


Next thing I knew, a stranger asked me if this was where the Eugene bus stopped at? Refraining from saying three pencils for a dollar! Since I was Joe Knows’ with my sign, Crikeys!


Then some stranger asked me if He could put my suitcase on the bus for me? Which I said Sure! As knock yourself out Big Fellah! And I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were riding the bus.


Heard Church Bells chiming eleven O’clock as we were approaching the Eugene train station. And then the same man said He’d take my suitcase off the bus for me if that was Ok?


Afterwards, the Bus driver kindly took pity on me and offered to escort me into the train station,. Walking me to the Chek-in counter and saying this is Grady and He’ll take care of you.


As Grady, the Amtrak station attendant was super kind to me, filling out my baggage tag and then walking me to the bathroom. Even standing outside waiting for me, before coming in and helping me find the sink along with grabbing paper towels for me.


Then He “parked” me on a bench in front of Him and said He’d “retrieve” Mwah when the train arrived in an hour and a half.


Shockingly, the Amtrak No. 14 Coast Starlight from L.A. was ontime, before the robotic androgynous female voice told us it was now scheduled to arrive at 12:44PM, seven minutes late…


Then the same robotic voice told everyone in the station to please prepare to board outside at the station platform, and soon I was the only person left sitting inside the station. Zipping up my coat and putting my backpack on and standing with my white cane, I began wondering where the Frick is Grady?


And after what felt like five minutes of standing, but probably only three. I played my wildcard upon Grady, since obviously I didn’t want to miss the train! Who presumably didn’t know I had the station’s phone number, which I called to Grady’s surprise…


Grady walked over to me and told me what everybody didn’t know was that the female Robotron didn’t know that the train had to slow outside of the Eugene station and wouldn’t actually arrive for several more minutes!


Grady said what the Heck as we walked outside. After the train’s Conductor told everybody to form a single line to board, that we’d simply go to the front of the line. With Grady thinking everyone would fall in directly behind us? But No! People simply didn’t pay Attenzione…


Before I was herded up the step box and four-five stairs by Grady and then He simply chose a seat for me on the Coast Starlight’s lower level, which I’d specifically chosen when buying my ticket a month in advance. Since being Blind, I’m not gonna try going up ‘n down the steep, tight stairs on a Double Decker moving train to go to the bathroom enroute!


Now I’ve heard about this situation occurring on the Coast Starlight before, but never experienced it myself. Since as soon as we departed Eugene, the female Conductor announced to our car that our bathroom wasn’t working correctly! And we’d need to ask Her to use it, and that She’d try to come by during stops to see if anybody needed to use them?


Approaching Portland, the same super kind, friendly female conductor came thru our car again, informing us She would be getting off in Portland during the Crew change and did

Anybody need to use the restrooms? As She couldn’t guarantee that the next Conductor would do the same for us, even though She’d tell Him…


Letting the two women in the front of my car go first, I eagerly took up the offer to go to the bathroom. As the Conductor gave me Her hand and helped me get to the bathroom between the two adjoining passenger cars.


Being somewhat flummoxed by this situation, I’d failed to remember that the bathroom door opened outwards vs. the normal inwards direction and couldn’t figure out how to open the door.


Before this super nice Conductor opened the door for me saying that they sticked. While the toilets needed to be manually reset. (Flushed)


And sure enough, have you ever noticed how it’s not “Manly” for a Male to ask another Male if they need to use the bathroom? Since All our Male Conductor did the entire way from Portland toTacoma was announce over the PA system that Car #11’s toilets didn’t work and that we’d need to go to the back of the train to use those restrooms instead! Seriously? A Blind person’s gonna find a bathroom somewhere distant on a moving train, Oh Never Mind!


Even more surprisingly, we made up the twenty some odd minutes we’d fallen behind by stopping for freight trains, and the Sounder Commuter train in Tacoma. Before arriving at the Tacoma train station exactly on time at 6:38PM, Eureka!


Before the Conductor helped me off of the train, passing me off to an awaiting station agent. Who escorted me towards the station after saying Tomaso? Before handing me off to Neilie. And then Claudio retrieved my suitcase and whisked us homewards. Before Nelie warmed up dinner for us, saying let’s eat!